The student news site of Hopkins High School

Royal vaccinations, or lack of

November 3, 2021

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A return to normalcy seems farther and farther away as the Delta variant runs rampant and vaccination rates have started to plateau. Despite vaccines being accessible to anyone over the age of 12, COVID cases continue to rise.

COVID vaccines have received emergency approval by the FDA, Food and Drug Administration, as well as the Pfizer vaccine being fully approved. Despite the encouragement from doctors, scientists, and government officials, only 70.8 percent of Minnesotans who are eligible for the vaccine have received all doses according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Although masks remain required and many other safety procedures are still set in place, HHS is no exception to the continued spread of COVID. COVID rates in Hopkins Schools are not nearly as high as other MN school districts, but the categorically high transmission rates still continue to increase.

HHS encourages vaccination and provides resources which are posted around the building, yet the school’s website lacks lots of information regarding COVID or vaccinations outside of the number of cases in the school.

Vaccination rates of students in secondary schools in the Hopkins District are relatively low compared to the state percentage, at a slowly growing 55 percent of students fully vaccinated.
Staff rates look much better at 80-90 percent of fully vaccinated, with some now receiving booster shots as well.

The vaccine is supposed to help our community return back to normal through herd immunity, so why don’t more people have it?

Those who are anti-vaccine are not a new concept, but a wave of new anti-vaxxers have emerged. Fears about side effects and lack of medical independence have pushed many Americans away from the COVID vaccine.

False news has also spread many misconceptions about vaccine side effects as well as the validity of COVID as a whole. From microchips to infertility to COVID being a ¨government hoax,¨ fake news has made it very difficult for people to trust many sources and find truthful information about this constantly changing topic.

The politicization of COVID, especially of the vaccine, has caused even more polarization during this emergent public health crisis. Vaccination is so closely correlated with political affiliation that conversations with strangers about vaccination are avoided just as much as political discussions.

“I encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” Nurse Chris Niederer said. “I know there has been a lot of concern regarding it, but the science has proven its effectiveness. Students who have been exposed to COVID and are vaccinated are either not contracting it or experiencing little to no symptoms.”

Those choosing not to get vaccinated put not only themselves at risk, but also those who cannot receive the vaccine. People with severe underlying conditions and children are still unable to get vaccinated.

Ms. Lisa Sohn, Spanish, is high risk, and despite being vaccinated is still concerned for her health and safety.

“My risk of developing dangerous symptoms are definitely increased,” Sohn said. “Though I am vaccinated and getting my booster soon, I still worry.”

Schools in the state of Minnesota require students to receive certain vaccinations before attending school unless they receive an exemption on the basis of medical needs or philosophical beliefs, so why is the COVID vaccine any different?

Multiple school districts in Minnesota already require anyone in contact with students to be vaccinated or have a negative COVID test. California has become the first state to require a COVID vaccine for students 12 and older and President Joe Biden has encouraged companies to mandate vaccination for their staff.

With such a large debate over the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, a decision has yet to be made over the mandate of the COVID vaccine in Minnesota schools among students. In order for this to be enacted, the Minnesota Legislature must agree to implement this into law, something very unlikely to happen due to the great political divide regarding the vaccine.

The only other way is for the Minnesota Department of Health to develop a case then put in a request to the state. Though this is possible, it would take over a year due to the great community input needed in order for the public to support the final rule, which even then the governor can veto.

With these restrictions in mind, the only way for schools to return close to the normal that was pre-COVID is for students and staff to get vaccinated as the threshold of herd immunity nears.

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