Finding a Common Ground: Should COVID Vaccines be Mandated?
By Olivia Boudreau ‘23 | February 23, 2021
On February 18, 2021, the co-chairs of the Events committee, Emily Burns and Samatha Riley, hosted their fourth Common Ground event in the Jean Student Center Event Space. This was the first Common Ground event of the semester. The central question of the event was whether the COVID-19 vaccine should be mandated.
Around twenty-five to thirty students attended the event, with representation from multiple majors, including Nursing, Communications, and Politics. Program Chair Jenifer Wallitsch moderated the event, asking the questions and keeping the conversation on the vaccine going as the program went on.
The first question asked during the event was about the public’s fears in regards to the vaccine. Most students were concerned about the spread of misinformation to the public leading to skepticism about the vaccine and its effectiveness. The second question asked students if they had any specific concerns about the vaccine or receiving it; the general consensus on that question was no.
The subject then shifted to the media’s role in spreading information about the vaccine and COVID-19 in general. Students generally expressed the concern that the media could be spreading misinformation or biases about the virus and the vaccine.
On the topic of the government, students gave varying opinions on whether the state or federal government should be in charge of distributing the vaccine as well as the schedule of who gets the vaccine and when. Students were mostly in agreement that the states should have a greater say in this than the federal government, as states may have more information on their general populations.
Some students also shared the opinion that the vaccine should not be federally mandated but mandated by the states, institutions, and different businesses. Students also came to the conclusion that federally mandating vaccines is unconstitutional, however much of the population would like it to be mandated for everyone. A general consensus was also that people should be vaccinated if they are going to large gatherings or getting on a plane, although it would be difficult to mandate.
Students were then asked if they believed that the COVID-19 vaccine differed from other vaccines in terms of protection, such as the polio vaccine. The general agreement was that it did not differ very much and that the general protection of the population from all of these diseases was important.
Finally, participants were asked if they would be more or less likely to support politicians who got the vaccine. Students expressed their concerns about politicians “jumping the line,” or getting vaccinated before other vulnerable populations when they were not as at-risk. However, some students were in favor of President Biden having received the vaccine, as he is in a vulnerable population. Some also agreed that the vaccines are better used to be distributed rather than discarded, even if it meant having to vaccinate less vulnerable populations to avoid waste.
The Events Committee will be holding another Common Ground event in the Jean Student Center Event Space on March 9, 2021, at 7 pm. The topic of that event will be, “Should the Minimum Wage be $15?”