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Syringe and vaccine.

          On March 12, 2020, students entered the school building without any idea that this would be their last full day of school for the next year and a half. The 2020-2021 school year was a challenge that most students, teachers, and families would like to leave in the past. Virtual school left many kids feeling disconnected from their peers and behind in their classes and interrupted 

          According to Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), a step that has been taken to ensure the health of students is a Covid vaccine mandate for student-athletes who are at least 16 years of age. This requirement will be implemented this winter and spring. If a student-athlete refuses to get vaccinated and would still like to participate in their sport, they will be subject to a Covid test every two weeks.

          There are numerous benefits to this mandate. It will protect the health of not only student athletes but also all FCPS students, families, and the community as a whole. It also decreases the likelihood of having to resume virtual school or having individual students quarantine.

          Covid is an easily transmitted virus that rapidly spreads from one person to another. According to John Hopkins Medicine, even if children do not show symptoms of Covid, they are still capable of spreading the virus. If a student is carrying the virus they will potentially infect their family, friends, classmates, teachers, or anyone else they come in contact with. It will then spread from those people to anyone they come in contact with, and so on. This is why covid has become such a prominent issue, needs to be taken seriously, and addressed properly. Fortunately, there are many ways of protecting yourself and others, such as wearing a mask, but by far the most effective method of slowing the spread is getting vaccinated.

          Making the vaccine mandatory for student athletes will make it extremely unlikely that the athletes would spread covid to other students in the school. If any student got sick they would not be able to attend school and they would likely get behind on schoolwork. This means it is very important that vaccination rates of students are high and this would significantly help that. Also, if enough students contract Covid there is a risk of school going virtual for all students. This would harm student’s education and overall well being, due to the stress and difficulties that many people faced during virtual school.

          A common concern regarding teenagers receiving the covid vaccine is the risk of myocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle. This is of course a valid concern; however, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), this has only occurred in over a thousand patients out of the millions that have been vaccinated. In addition to it being rare, the cases are not serious and those affected recover quickly.

          To ensure the safety of teenagers, Lisa Leno, science teacher, remarked, “For a student with a known heart or other health condition that impacts their heart, I do believe that a pediatrician and cardiologist should be consulted while parents make the decision to vaccinate against COVID.”

          Moreover, many people believe that a requirement for the Covid vaccine is an infringement of our constitutional rights. Protests against various Covid restrictions have been happening across the country due to the belief that the protocols go against our civil liberties. According to BBC News, a mantra used by many of these protesters is one that was used during the Revolutionary War. The phrase, “Give me liberty or give me death,” has been used for vaccination protesters to express that they would rather risk getting the virus than be forced to get the vaccine. This shows how the topic of vaccination has swayed from logic and become a political decision by many. This has become very dangerous because according to the Washington Post, areas with low vaccination rates have significantly higher hospitalization rates. 

          In addition, there is substantial evidence to indicate that mandatory vaccines do not defect our Constitutional rights. An article from the National Constitution Center in August, Scott Bomboy states that, “In 1905, the Supreme Court ruled in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts that under a state law local health authorities could compel adults to receive the smallpox vaccine.” 

          This ruling proves that vaccination mandates are deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court and have been enforced for over a century. In another Supreme Court decision, Zucht vs. King 1922, it was argued that excluding students from attending private school if they were not vaccinated against smallpox violates the Fourteenth Amendment rights. 

          Justice Louis Brandeis declared, “Long before this suit was instituted, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, had settled that it is within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccination.”

          The Covid vaccine mandate for student athletes will overall benefit Westfield students and others across the county. In order to avoid another year of online learning, it is essential that  schools take proper preventative steps.