By Zachary Baker–

With the end of the pandemic in sight, hope of going back to normal is rising. For many of us, that means getting vaccinated, removing our masks and returning to work and in person classes. 

However, in spite of many of the restrictions being lifted, some colleges such as Berea College are requiring that students get vaccinated in order to return to campus in the fall. 

Despite my support for vaccination, I would say that this is a policy that is likely to do more harm than good. 

We have reached a point where state governments across the entire U.S. have begun to take away restrictions and focus heavily on reopening their states. This, too, is occurring within Kentucky. 

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said that “the state’s emerging economy is set for liftoff as final capacity restrictions related to COVID-19 will end Friday, June 11.” 

Right now, we are seeing plans to close vaccination sites across the state due to a lack of long-term demand. 

“Not since the week beginning March 9 has the state achieved its goal of administering 90 percent of the vaccine doses it receives each week. The week beginning April 13, just 84,968 doses were administered of 158,470 received — just 54 percent,” said FOX19 Reporter Brian Planalp. 

Herd immunity is incredibly important for the success of the vaccine, but it is obvious that many people are refusing to get it — either out of fear of the side effects, a lack of trust in the government and the manufacturers, or out of spite. 

While I can say that those decisions may be selfish, we also have to admit that the decision to get vaccinated cannot be forced onto people. Instead, we have to convince them to take those steps towards safety for all. 

Not only do mandatory vaccination policies affect those who have disorders or allergies that can prevent them from getting the vaccine, but it also harms those who have legitimate fears about how certain versions of the vaccine were created. 

For all of us who want to get back to normal, it makes sense to want everyone to get vaccinated so we can live with minimized risk. 

But the truth of the matter is that there is a lot we do not know about the long-term requirements for dealing with COVID-19, such as whether we will require boosters every year or whether there will need to be more vaccines for the various new strains that will appear. 

Punishing others who want to get back to normal but want to do so while waiting on more information does nothing to convince them to contribute to the vaccination efforts. 

Meanwhile, it is important to still encourage everyone to get the vaccine. The vaccine is a great step towards helping us move towards a full reopening. 

Dr. William McKinney, professor and associate dean of the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at U of L, said, “In many ways, vaccines have become a victim of their own success. Vaccines against polio have very nearly eradicated this deadly disease worldwide. Those against smallpox have already done so.”

“Persons who weren’t alive when polio was rampant in the U.S. don’t remember the extensive efforts to cover the population and how dramatic the results were in lowering risk of paralysis for generations of Americans, thereby taking this protection for granted,” he said. 

While the mandatory policies do seem rational for many, we also have to acknowledge how they can harm the very cause that we’re working toward. The policy will only push people away from getting vaccinated or make them resentful towards those who force them to get the vaccine without them seeing the value that comes from it.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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