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Opinion: Meredith’s COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement Leaves Politics Behind

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine bottles on a white table with a blue background
Photo courtesy of the North Dakota Department of Health

In recent history, the political divide between liberals and conservatives has grown to an unreasonable point. Instead of debating policy questions, like how much of the federal budget should go to one cause versus another, Democrats and Republicans have taken to debating over the one thing that should never be politicized: science. By choosing to require the COVID-19 vaccine starting in Spring 2022, Meredith has taken a step in the right direction. This change proves that Meredith considered the science behind the vaccine as the only criteria in their decision-making process.

The science and safety of the COVID-19 vaccines has not been called into question by any reputable, scientific sources. Television anchors and media personalities on both sides of the aisle, however, can’t seem to stop talking about how wrong the other side is about the safety of the vaccine. The left often treats (sometimes reasonable) questions about the safety of the vaccine like they have no foundation whatsoever, while the right often discounts attempts to point out the science behind the safety of the vaccines. Very few people on either side of this debate are truly listening to the other party.

What the science does say is this: the COVID-19 vaccines have undergone more clinical testing than any other vaccine in recent history, and people who have received the vaccine are being monitored under an intense global microscope. The only reason they were approved by the FDA so much faster than other medications or vaccines is because of the immediate health risk the pandemic imposed — meaning that the tedious bureaucratic process of paperwork, which has nothing to do with the safety of the vaccine, could be avoided. No vaccine has ever been 100% effective; take the flu vaccine, for example, which Meredith is requiring for residential students again this year. The flu vaccine works because, while it is not 100% effective, enough of the population gets it so that the viral spread is lower. We’ve eradicated smallpox and polio not because the vaccines against those diseases were foolproof, but because society came together to get vaccinated and stop the death and suffering those diseases caused.

There is no scientific or fact-based reason for individuals to protest the decision that Meredith and other universities have made to require the COVID-19 vaccine. This is particularly true because universities have required other vaccinations for decades. For full-time students, Meredith requires a Certificate of Immunization against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (TDAP), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, chicken pox and meningococcal ACWY. My question to people who take issue with Meredith now requiring the COVID-19 vaccine is, what is the difference here? The answer, I would argue, is politics.

Of the millions of people who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, both in the extensive clinical trials and following the emergency approvals by the FDA, an insignificant amount have had a negative reaction. The CDC reports that serious side effects from vaccines are most likely to occur within six weeks of receiving a dose. In the cases of most, if not all, politicians and media personalities who advocate against the COVID-19 vaccines (often when they have already received it themselves), their protests are political in origin. The vaccine has become one more issue that can be used to divide the nation, and institutions that, unlike Meredith, do not require the vaccine because of these completely political arguments are only validating the efforts of those who seek to divide and polarize America.

Democrats and Republicans will always disagree on policy issues. However, science is not a policy, and getting a vaccine that has been demonstrated to be safe by the millions who have already received it is not a political choice. By requiring the COVID-19 vaccine, Meredith College has taken a stand against political agendas and stuck with the science, and I applaud them for it.

By Olivia Slack, Co-Editor in Chief



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