I'm sure you've heard the news: the University of Cincinnati (UC) has mandated the fully approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. This news was a relief to me as well as a majority of UC employees, according to a Faculty Senate and Staff Senate survey.
I'm not shocked that this move was popular throughout UC, as the delta variant has surged in the greater Cincinnati area. Hamilton County health officials say the increasing case counts are beginning to overwhelming local hospitals, and they're urging everyone in the region to accept the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Also, considering that the coronavirus has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated, as President Joe Biden and top health officials have warned, it was really a no-brainer.
I do understand, however, that there are many people who continue to reject the vaccine and the mandates that come along with it. In fact, I noticed a flyer petitioning against UC’s vaccine order when walking through Nippert Stadium on my way to class last week. Part of me wanted to tear down the 8.5” x 11” printer paper taped to the concrete beam in a fit of rage. Instead, I collected myself and felt a certain urgency in assuring my vaccine-resistant peers that they really have nothing to worry about.
The most common argument that I see against COVID-19 vaccine requirements is that they are some sort of "assault on civil liberties." I see where they are coming from, but I feel that this assertion couldn't be further from the truth. Vaccine mandates enhance civil liberties by protecting our most vulnerable—such as people with disabilities, those with immunodeficiencies, or communities of color who have been disproportionally affected by the coronavirus, as argued by David Cole and Daniel Mach from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"And by inoculating people from the disease’s worst effects," the two wrote in the New York Times, "the vaccines offer the promise of restoring to all of us our most basic liberties, eventually allowing us to return safely to life as we knew it, in schools and at houses of worship and political meetings, not to mention at restaurants, bars and gatherings with family and friends."
Vaccine mandates aren't new, either. UC has long required that students registering for greater than six credit hours must be vaccinated against influenza, hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal bacteria, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap) and varicella (chicken pox). Every single student "must comply with this policy," according to UC. So, why is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved COVID-19 vaccine any different? It shouldn't be.
This brings me to the conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. Misinformation has spread like wildfire on social media— so much that I could never dispel all of them. But doctors across the nation assure that the coronavirus vaccine works; it won't make you magnetic, it doesn’t cause variants and it won't make you infertile. When in doubt, trust these health experts.
As the pandemic of the unvaccinated rages on, I have a plea for those who are still rejecting the COVID-19 vaccine and are pushing back against UC's mandate: please get the vaccine to protect yourself, me and everyone else on campus.