Opinion | We need all students to be vaccinated

Despite no vaccine mandate, all students need to be vaccinated for COVID-19.


Grace Smith

Students sit and wait for 15 to 30 minutes after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in the Iowa Memorial Union at the University of Iowa on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Columnist

As students prepare to come back to the University of Iowa, there is an optimistic attitude for the upcoming academic year than the previous year, which was centered around COVID-19.

The university plans to transition back to in-person instruction for classes under 150 students; lift mask mandates in most areas; invite fans back to Kinnick Stadium for football games at full-capacity; and allow for face-to-face student club and organization meetings, along with a multitude of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.

With the UI slowly moving back to pre-pandemic life, it is comprehensible to think COVID-19 is history. Sadly, this is not the case. COVID-19 has not vanished, and it is actually getting worse.

Within the past two weeks, COVID-19 cases have more than doubled across Iowa. Along with the increase in cases, hospitalizations in Iowa related to the virus are over 100 for the first time since May.

Most public health experts point to the Delta variant as the culprit behind the national surge of cases. The Delta variant, which is a mutation of SARS-CoV-2, has proven to be more contagious than previous strains of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Delta variant currently contributes to 83 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

In recent days, leaders of the Republican Party have encouraged Americans to get vaccinated despite a history of indifferent attitudes surrounding COVID-19 vaccines. Conservative pundit Sean Hannity recently said on television that, “it absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccinations.”

With the increased support of COVID-19 vaccinations across political spectrums, some states have seen a slight boost in vaccinations. However, many states still see a decline in overall vaccination rates.

In Iowa, only 46.6 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. In comparison to the state, Johnson County has seen a higher percentage of vaccination rates, with 58.4 percent of eligible persons vaccinated. However, some counties in Iowa report vaccination rates as low as 29.4 percent.

Despite their eligibility, young Iowans also report relatively low vaccination rates. Only 35 percent of Iowans ages 18-19 are fully vaccinated, with Iowans ages 20-28 at 38 percent.

With vaccination rates where they currently stand in Iowa, and across the country, the pandemic is far from over. Some experts suggest we will not reach herd immunity until 70-90 percent of the population is vaccinated – this includes children under 12 who are not currently eligible for a vaccine. At the country’s current rate of vaccinations, we will not reach the 90 percent target until August of 2022.

Despite the atmosphere and enthusiasm heading into the coming school year, COVID-19 has not disappeared. But we as students can help defeat the persistent virus by getting vaccinated.

The Iowa state Board of Regents has not set a vaccine mandate for students coming back to campus. The UI website instructs, “Consistent with that guidance, the university urges everyone eligible to receive a vaccine when it is available to them, in consultation with their health care provider, through established protocols and recommendations of their health care provider.”

Although COVID-19 vaccines are not mandated, all students have the obligation to their community and school to get vaccinated to help slow the spread of the contagious Delta variant and work towards herd immunity.

Though vaccinated individuals have tested positive for COVID-19, vaccinations prove to be largely effective in protecting individuals against the virus. Unvaccinated individuals are twice as likely to be hospitalized by the Delta variant than the Alpha variant, previously seen amidst soaring outbreaks.

As the previous school year exemplified, COVID-19 puts hard restraints on the quality of education the UI can provide. Though online classes are largely dismissed, and masks are not widely mandated, these restrictions can be reinforced in no time. As the virus has proven time and time again, becoming negligent to COVID-19 precautions has irreversible effects.

With the current success seen from vaccinations, this school year can be far better than the one we previously experienced. Students can go about their education with less risk of getting sick, and Iowa City citizens can see their community come back to life. However, this will not happen if people choose to not get vaccinated.

Together, let’s move forward and work to make COVID-19 history. Please, get vaccinated and stay safe this school year.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.


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