COLUMN: Why MU should enforce a vaccine requirement for fall semester

If MU does not require vaccines, COVID-19 will continue to spread and mutate into new variants, which will put all of us in danger. MU must mandate them so students can feel safe on campus.

Cayli Yanagida

It’s Nov. 26, 2020: Thanksgiving Day. Instead of sitting at a wooden dining table covered with turkey and pumpkin pie, I sit in front of my computer screen. Within seconds, my mother’s face greets me from Olympia, Washington. After calling over my father, he appears, smiling, with my dog Bleu.

We talk for three hours. The main topic of our conversation is what I’m missing: the food, Bleu, the Christmas decorations strung around the house. It’s all bittersweet. When the call ends and I’m left alone with my thoughts, my mixed emotions turn into one: anger.

Our Thanksgiving shouldn’t have been miles apart. If I hadn’t been diagnosed with COVID-19 eight days before, I would have been in Washington State celebrating with my family.

I think about the week I spent cramped in a tiny room with nothing to do except think about what I was missing back home. I think about how I could have been exposed — it had to have been from my job. So many of my coworkers had gotten COVID-19 the same week. I had seen everyone, even my closest friends, with masks.

I had done everything to be safe, and it still hadn’t been enough. So, my questioning began: How could people not care about COVID-19? How could people not care about how their actions impacted others?

Emmet Jamieson

Last March, we all fell into a deep, dark pit. Now, we are dragging ourselves out of it, taking small steps away from the darkness every day. We have almost pulled ourselves back into the light, or what remains of it. We’re almost there — and we can only get there if we all get vaccinated.

Americans 16 and older can now get vaccinated in every state, free of charge. Shots are available at pharmacies, county health departments and here on MU’s campus. Everyone who wants a vaccine can now get one. There’s no reason to wait.

We know that the vaccines are safe and effective. They have undergone rigorous safety monitoring, and potential complications like the blood clots that resulted from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are extremely rare.

Getting vaccinated is also a moral imperative.

A person who isn’t vaccinated can still catch and transmit the virus. By allowing the virus to continue spreading, it will continue to mutate and spawn new variants that might threaten those who are vaccinated.

Those who don’t plan to get vaccinated are dragging us all back into the deep, dark pit that we have worked so hard to crawl out of.

MU is not exempt from the responsibility that students share. MU should play its part by requiring students to get vaccinated. MU certainly has the power to do so.

More than 100 colleges and universities, both public and private, are mandating the vaccine, mostly for students who live on campus or attend in-person classes. MU also already requires students to provide proof of mumps, measles, rubella and meningitis vaccinations. There is no reason they can’t add COVID-19 to the list.

MU is morally obligated to ensure the safety of its students by mandating vaccination. This action would show that MU is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all its students. MU has already done so much to keep us safe — mandating masks, requiring tests for returning students this semester, providing a free vaccine site on campus — so why give up now?

MU must require all students living on campus and attending in-person classes to get vaccinated, and it must provide entry vaccinations on campus for those who didn’t get vaccinated at home.

It’s our responsibility as students to get vaccinated against this virus, and it’s MU’s responsibility to make students who won’t get a shot voluntarily either get one or stay home.

The light is coming ever closer. We have fought so hard to get here, and our fight is almost over.

Do you really want to be the reason this nightmare never ends?

Cayli Yanagida

In mid-November of 2020, I saw my world crumble around me. After an already trying semester, getting COVID-19 darkened the one glimmer of hope I had for the end of the fall semester. Whether I knew it or not, my experience within this pandemic changed my life. It changed me.

I didn’t give COVID-19 to anyone I loved: the only happy moment of my experience. My friends all tested negative. My parents, thousands of miles away from me, worried for my health. Knowing I hadn’t hurt anyone I cared for made me relieved. I want everyone to feel that relief as well.

I want those who are hesitant about the vaccine to listen.

COVID-19 can ruin people’s lives without killing them. However, worrying about hurting others is not the only reason why we should all be safe.

Get the vaccine for those who don’t have the privilege of quarantining at home. Get the vaccine so no one else has to stay within a cramped hotel room, missing the holiday dedicated to spending time with their family.

I did everything I could to stay safe, and it still wasn’t enough. Those who are vaccinated are doing everything they can. So, for those of you thinking of not getting the vaccine, don’t be the reason someone else suffers. Don’t let us fall deeper into the dark pit.

Don’t dim the light for those who have done all they could to be safe.

The Maneater encourages you to donate to the Heart of Missouri United Way. All donations will go to local health and human services efforts that will help those suffering economically because of the COVID-19 pandemic. https://liveunited.uwheartmo.org/comm/SinglePageRegPledge.jsp

Edited by Sarah Rubinstein | srubinstein@themaneater.com

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