The Second Largest School District in the Country Just Mandated Vaccines. So Should La Salle.


Photo Illustration by Lukas Werner

As of August 2021, 80% of La Salle’s student body is currently fully vaccinated.

Andrew Clair, Assistant Editor

Should we always put personal ‘freedom’ over the protection of the community?

Following the example of school districts such as the Los Angeles school system, La Salle should mandate that all eligible students receive the COVID-19 vaccine to improve the quality of education as well as standards of safety from COVID-19 in our community.

Despite the baseless accusations that vaccine mandates infringe on constitutional rights, this is patently not the case.

In 1904, a man by the name of Henning Jacobson sued the state of Massachusetts for requiring a vaccine in response to a smallpox outbreak under threat of a $5 fine, which would now equate to roughly $150. While Jacobson claimed it was his individual right to decide whether or not to participate, the Supreme Court disagreed, rightly asserting that it was within the scope of good government to restrain individual decision-making to protect the public good.

Today, ten different vaccines are required to attend school in Oregon, which the majority of students have received with little to no protest. While there are some differences between traditional vaccines and the COVID-19 immunization shot, these are not consequential to the consumer from a health and safety perspective.

The most significant claim differentiating the coronavirus vaccines from those like the polio vaccine, as well as the most common talking point to disseminate anti-vax propaganda, is that the Pfizer vaccine — the vaccine most La Salle students would be eligible to use — takes advantage of “experimental” mRNA technology that’s been rushed to market.

While it is true that messenger RNA vaccines have not been distributed on a consumer level before for other vaccines, general research has been conducted and published for decades on the theoretical use of this technology.

Another common misconception relating to mRNA technology is that it alters your DNA and can damage cells, but the strand of code embedded into the vaccine actually never enters your nucleus, merely replicating harmless spike proteins in the ribosome. 

One far more legitimate concern, and the most impactful side effect of the Pfizer vaccine, is the possibility of an increased risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart. While the FDA does recognize this slight risk, it is also true that the majority of patients with these cases felt better quickly after rest and possible treatment, and got back to their normal activities without a hitch. Not only this, but COVID-19 can cause myocarditis as well as more serious heart issues like heart attacks, even after the patient has “recovered” from COVID. 

It is also important to note that it’s extremely unlikely the vaccine has long-term side effects we are still unaware of that will appear years after taking the vaccine. Besides the fact that this would be “historically unprecedented,” according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), the spike proteins created by the vaccine are out of your system weeks after the second dose.

As the Delta variant charges throughout the country, maxing out the capacities of many hospitals, it’s important to note that while the new strain is 60% more contagious than the original alpha variant, a new study strongly suggests that the vaccine can reduce transmission by a significant 70%, showing the importance of group vaccination.

Furthermore, unvaccinated individuals are eleven times more likely to die from COVID-19, according to CDC.

Despite these facts, the official FDA approval, and the many studies proving the vaccination’s safety, Oregon school administrations are still putting many students in danger in order to appease the whims of many who are misinformed and making terrible health decisions that affect the entire group and even threaten lives.

This isn’t all to say the decision-making of said administrations isn’t understandable. Coronavirus vaccine requirements in schools are far from common. 

That being said, as a smaller private school, La Salle has a rare opportunity to serve as a pioneer for in-school COVID-19 vaccine requirements. I encourage the administration to consider their ability to lead Oregon schools in this much-needed step towards safety. 

In the same way, we give up our ‘right’ to drive a car with no license, or our ‘right’ not to pay taxes, we all concede certain freedoms to any given governing body, let it be the federal government or even the La Salle community, in order to secure safety and security, and, in many ways, even more freedom.

Part of this social contract should include the freedom of knowing that while attending La Salle, we can have the confidence that everyone in the school community has done what is needed to protect the student body. Instead, we currently have 20% of the student body serving as a crack in our security against COVID-19.