Should Vaccines be Required at Montclair High?

Lauren Spielberg, Staff Writer

New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all preschool to 12th grade teachers is now in effect. Under the mandate, all school staff are required to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. New Jersey should take the mandate one step further and require all eligible students to be vaccinated. 

 Earlier this month, the state of California became the first state in the United States to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all public and private school students.  California Governor Gavin Newsom said the COVID-19 vaccine would be added to the list of other vaccines required for school attendance, like vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella. Under the mandate, grades 7-12 would be required to be vaccinated first. Grades K-6 would be vaccinated once the Food and Drug Administration approved the COVID vaccine for that age group. 

After conducting an unscientific poll at Montclair High School, a majority of students support a vaccine mandate. Of the 102 students and teachers asked whether the Montclair Board of Education should enact a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, 88 people responded yes.  The district will not disclose the percentage of high school students that are vaccinated in Montclair But of those polled, 94 students said they are fully vaccinated.  

A Freshman student who supports a vaccine mandate said that ¨People need to get the vaccine if they are eligible because it is not fair to those who died over this year and a half. ¨ Another student said, “Getting vaccinated means we can get back to normal faster, I just want it to be normal again.”  

A small number of students do not support a mandatory vaccine policy at Montclair High. Most of the 14 students who oppose vaccine mandates cite health concerns and religious beliefs as the main reasons why.   

“If I were allergic to the vaccine, I would still have herd immunity so it doesn’t matter if it’s required or not because so many people have it (the vaccine) that go to Montclair High,” said one critic. Another student, who also chose not to be named, said a “Child should not be denied an education for not getting a vaccine, it’s not fair.”  

I believe New Jersey should follow in California’s footsteps and mandate a vaccine policy in all schools.   

The Centers for Disease Control says the COVID-19 vaccine reduces the risk of getting the virus among those who are fully vaccinated by 90 percent or more. The CDC also says there is growing evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine can reduce the spread of the illness overall.    

The CDC says 46 percent of children aged 12 to 15, and 54 percent of 16 to 17 are fully vaccinated nationwide. The agency also released a study this week saying the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine was 93% effective in preventing hospitalizations among 12 to 18-year-olds.  

There have been over 700,000 deaths in the United States due to COVID-19. A student vaccine mandate will help keep students and teachers safe, prevent the further spread of COVID-19, and prevent school shutdowns.