Op-ed: NU is right in requiring COVID-19 testing, vaccination

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"Syringe and Vaccine" by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Northeastern requires COVID-19 vaccination and testing for students and staff.

Sarah Barber, contributor

Northeastern released a new policy June 21 that requires students to submit proof of either COVID-19 vaccination or a valid religious and medical exemption. This vaccine mandate was first announced by NU April 6, with exceptions allowed for religious and medical reasons. Back in April, Northeastern was one of the first colleges to make this kind of announcement, but with battles over mask and vaccination mandates sparking across the country within all levels of education, it seems even more paramount to discuss why Northeastern is right to require vaccination and frequent COVID-19 testing for its students and faculty. 

The testing requirement is not a new phenomenon for Northeastern students. Beginning in the fall of 2020, all members of the Northeastern community had to complete routine nasal swab tests and get tested immediately if they experienced symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, masks were required both indoors and outdoors on campus until late spring and courses operated on a hybrid model. With the recent surge in cases and the increased presence of the Delta variant, the indoor portion of that mandate returned for the fall 2021, even though classes are still set to be fully in person.

We all want to return to fully in person, unmasked classes and campus life. The best way to achieve that goal is to require vaccination for all faculty and staff, as Northeastern has done, and as other colleges must do. As of Sept. 1, only 25% of colleges in the United States require vaccinations, but we have a responsibility as people to protect each other and protect anyone else we may come in contact with.

COVID-19 vaccinations do not exempt those who receive them from carrying the virus; however, they will limit the symptoms and decrease that individual’s chance of contracting the coronavirus. The more members of our community are vaccinated, the less chance there is of having a large campus outbreak. Obviously, students and faculty are not in the campus bubble all the time, but with vaccination, there is much less of a risk that individuals will bring the coronavirus back to campus and infect others.

We have reached a point in time where I truly cannot think of a person that does not either know someone who contracted the coronavirus or had it themselves. While, of course, some people experience no symptoms or have only mild symptoms, that is not the case for all. It is in our best interest as a campus and a community to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and each other.

Despite all the benefits the vaccine has to offer, some are hesitant to receive the vaccine out of fear of being microchipped. We must all understand there is no microchip or anything suspicious in the vaccine and that this school of thought has absolutely zero basis in reality.

If you’re hesitant to get vaccinated because you’re worried about the post-injection symptoms, know that getting the coronavirus and being unvaccinated will feel immensely worse than the discomfort you’ll experience for a day or two. It also appears that getting vaccinated lowers the chances of contracting the coronavirus. A study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine examined a population of Israeli health care workers who were believed to be infected after contact with an unvaccinated patient. Among the 1,497 fully vaccinated workers, only 39 developed breakthrough infections.

At the end of the day, getting vaccinated is a responsibility we have as humans. It’s not a political game; it doesn’t perpetuate some kind of hidden agenda. The COVID-19 pandemic is a humanitarian issue at its core. If you’re not going to get vaccinated for yourself, do it for those you love; do it for your community; do it for the people who don’t yet have access to the shots. The ample access to vaccines that we have in this country is a privilege and to throw that away is a gross statement of entitlement.

You may not like every decision NU makes, and honestly, I don’t either. But this decision to mandate vaccinations is necessary. It is essential. If we ever hope to return to normal, the requirement of inoculation is a step we have to take. I commend Northeastern for making such a bold decision so early, and for following through with it. It was a decision made to protect our community, and give us hope for the future.

Get your shot, slap the bandaid on and know that you’re making this choice for the greater good of humanity. Please.

Sarah Barber is a second-year journalism and English major and Deputy City Editor of The News. She can be reached at [email protected]