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By Marc Anthony

For decades, schools have mandated vaccinations in the name of public health, claiming that vaccinating the nation’s youth is the quickest, most efficient, and least costly road to herd immunity. The government’s claim has proven true in many cases: Smallpox, Polio, and Measles have been entirely eradicated, and many other severe illnesses have had very few outbreaks thanks to childhood vaccination. In mass-vaccinating children, the government has saved millions of dollars in medical resources, which otherwise would have been severely depleted due to devastating outbreaks. Thanks to years of rigorous research, safe vaccines with rare side effects have prevented the country from being brought to its knees with draconian, war-time measures to stop the spread of deadly illnesses in the name of public health. It only holds true that this would also be the case for COVID-19, right? In this article, I’ll take you on a journey of a fast-tracked, highly politicized vaccine that quite literally doesn’t even stop the spread of a virus, yet is so widely publicized to the masses that people are bombarded left and right with advertisements to get their vaccine, chastised if they question it, and all but ostracized if they choose not to. Schools are just one aspect of normal life that the government is trying to control under the umbrella of vaccination, and many schools, including universities, are making an effort to mandate this brand new vaccine under the threat of barring students from attending.

Truly, I’m not an anti-vaxxer, and I sincerely hope that my article doesn’t portray me as such. I am staunchly in favor of well-vetted vaccinations, and am up to date on all of mine, including Rabies. However, the majority of vaccines on the market have been vetted through years of research. According to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, vaccines can take many years to develop, often ranging from 4 to 10 years, and must be licensed through the FDA. The main issue with the COVID vaccine in many people’s minds is that it hasn’t gone through the many years of research and trials that most other vaccines have, and has instead been fast-tracked for public use. The vaccine has not been licensed yet and has simply received EUA (Emergency Use Authorization). An EUA is given out by the FDA during a public health emergency and allows the use of otherwise unauthorized medical products or unapproved usages of previously authorized medical products to treat and prevent serious illnesses. 

For a more general analysis of the science behind the COVID vaccines and the issue with “vaccine passports”, I encourage a look at Patrick McAuliffe’s article “Papers, Please!” My focus is specifically on the vaccination mandates that will inevitably be put on all students returning to in-person schooling and why that absolutely should not be a thing. According to the CDC, by the 1980-1981 school year every state, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had vaccine mandates for students entering school for the first time. The vaccine requirements unilaterally included Polio, Smallpox, and Measles, three diseases that have been essentially eradicated in the United States and are considered much more dangerous to children than COVID. Harvard Health has put out an info sheet about COVID that says that while children are still able to catch and transmit the virus, they are much less likely to suffer the severe symptoms that older people may face unless they have severe underlying conditions. 

Basically, the whole purpose of the vaccines on the market right now is to lessen the symptoms of COVID, rather than prevent anyone from getting it. Under current measures, catching the virus in any way, shape, or form, will put a person out of school for at least ten days, the “quarantine” period– the person will just feel better than they would if they hadn’t received the vaccine. This maintains the cycle of essentially stopping and starting society due to cases popping up, which is incredibly inconvenient and wholly unnecessary if COVID becomes endemic. Not to mention, exposing children to a vaccine that was rushed through testing that can potentially have more negative effects than positive is a bad idea as a whole, leaving us with a “benefits outweigh the risks” type of situation– but do they? As I said earlier, many vaccines that are mandated have been tested heavily through years of trials and research and clearly do not pose a risk to children as they age. This poses the question: what is the point of even getting a vaccine that not only doesn’t stop the spread and transmission of a virus, but could also potentially harm someone, if they can’t go back to pre-COVID life anyway? Trials have not even started for children under 12, and while the vaccine has been tested and used in those that are older, there have certainly been negative side effects observed, albeit anecdotally, including death. At this point in time, it really doesn’t seem necessary to even consider mandating the vaccine for children; why risk the potential negative side effects? 

If you’re not convinced yet, let me give you an example of something that wasn’t incredibly widely tested that caused severe issues for many children: the Lupron shot. The Lupron shot was first put on the market as a drug for prostate cancer, but it was approved for use in 1993 for precocious puberty after “minimal research.” Years after the shot was given to children, many of those who received it suffered very severe side effects including fibromyalgia, seizures, debilitating depression, and bone disorders. Regardless of this, the drug is still on the market and still being used on unsuspecting children who are likely not even made aware of the side effects. The FDA is aware of this; in a 1993 memo, Dr. Alexander Fleming, the former FDA medical officer, wrote that it was “regrettable” that this drug was approved with such minimal study. Who’s to say that this won’t happen with the COVID vaccine? This is purely speculation, but it seems that, since the vaccine was simply rushed through during a dire time, there’s not likely to be much more research done past the small amount of clinical trials for each age group, with potentially very little follow-up. 

Speaking to the fact that the COVID vaccine does not entirely prevent COVID, it’s very interesting that this was approved after many years of attempts to unsuccessfully create a coronavirus vaccine. In the 1960’s, scientists attempted to create a vaccine for RSV and skipped animal trials, deeming them “unnecessary.” When the vaccine was tested out on young children, those who were vaccinated actually got sicker than those who were not, with 80% of those vaccinated ending up in hospitals. Fast-forward to the early 2000s when scientists took another crack at a coronavirus vaccine, this time testing on animals first: during the various different attempts ferrets developed hepatitis, mice and civets became sicker than those not given the vaccine, and mice developed lung disease. Each current coronavirus vaccine was tested alongside animals. While that’s definitely better than not being tested on animals at all, there is no data to show whether or not long-term side effects are possible since there simply has not been enough time that has passed yet. Unless the child lives in a home with several older people or those with pre-existing conditions that make COVID more deadly to them, there is no reason they should be forced to take an experimental vaccine in order for them to return to normal social life. The CDC even admits that the vaccine will not prevent transmitting COVID to the vaccinated person, and the clinical trials of the mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer and Moderna did not include children in their results. The effects of the vaccine on children are still unknown, and if COVID will spread anyway, even with the vaccine, children should not be forced to take it without their parents or guardians knowing all of the possible risks and side effects. While college students are adults, it’s incredibly worrisome that many colleges are taking the route of mandating the COVID vaccine and it sets a dangerous precedent for mandating it in K-12 schools as well. Again, I’m wholeheartedly not anti-vax, I just think that more research needs to come out and time needs to pass before the vaccines for COVID become mandated. The idea behind the vaccines is great, and it’s important to make sure everyone is safe and the pandemic does end, but the quickness at which the vaccines came out is worrying and blindly mandating something like this is also worrying. People deserve the right to choose whether or not they get the vaccine. Vaccines for smallpox, polio, and measles make sense to mandate because of their proven efficacy in stopping their intended viral target; the COVID vaccines do not. Therefore, they should not be so quickly rushed for use by the public, and especially should not be so quickly mandated as a roadblock for our nation’s youth to return to normal life. Bottom line: vaccines good, mandating something without plenty of research bad.

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