Missouri’s public universities should mandate COVID-19 vaccines for the fall semester

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The sign outside the campus gates of Truman State University in Kirksville. (Photo courtesy of Truman State University)

By WILL HENDRICKSON
For the Missouri Independent

Missouri has become the latest battleground in the war against COVID-19. Not only are we battling the Delta virus and its uncontrolled spread, we are also battling the clock — or should I say calendar? 

The summer is quickly passing and before too long we will be back in the fall. Thus entering another cold and flu season, headlined by a global pandemic. The one thing Missourians have working for us is a miracle of science: vaccines. 

Both Pfizer and Moderna have proven their worth in the time of the Delta variant, the severity of COVID cases and the spread of the highly contagious variant rests squarely within unvaccinated populations. However, Missouri is still overwhelmingly unvaccinated. Therefore, the chief actor to fight back against the Delta variant, and protect our state as our cooler months approach, must be schools. 

Specifically public universities. 

Recently, a federal judge upheld Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, stating that under the 14th Amendment, the school had the authority to require a vaccine, in an emergency situation, out of interest in defending the campus and public good. 

With this ruling, public universities in the state of Missouri should follow suit and begin mandating the vaccine for the fall 2021 semester. 

Not only is there now legal justification, Missouri is seeing spikes that we haven’t seen since before the vaccines were available. 

Furthermore, according to the New York Times COVID map, the counties that house three major state schools — the University of Missouri, Missouri State and Truman State — are all high risk or hot spot counties (Boone, Greene, Adair). This means that as the school year starts, these communities that are already under attack from this virus will fill up with students from across the state. We will only see an increase of cases and a worsening of the situation in college towns.

With all of this in mind, there is no reason the vaccines should not be required to attend a public college in the state of Missouri. The vaccines are safe, effective and our best defense at slowing the speed of the virus and its variants. 

Will Henrickson is a senior at Truman State University and progressive organizer who is dedicated to standing up for the rights of Missourians.

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