Students favor mandatory vaccine for return to campus


National Cancer Institute

Students tell Campus Current they want the college to require students and staff to take the COVID-19 vaccine before they come to campus in the fall.

Dominic Salacki, Reporter

AACC students said in April the college should require everyone who comes onto campus in the fall to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

In an informal poll of 29 students, 19 told Campus Current AACC should require full vaccinations for returning students, professors and staff, while 10 disagreed.

AACC President Dawn Lindsay said in April the college “currently does not intend to require the COVID-19 vaccine” but encouraged students and employees to get vaccinated “both for your safety and the safety of others.”

Still, first-year student Savannah Mulvey, who is dual-enrolled at AACC and Chesapeake High School, said she won’t feel safe coming to campus unless the college requires everyone to be vaccinated.

She said her grandfather suffers from a lung disease, so “I don’t want to return back to school until I know it’s going to be safe and I don’t risk bringing back anything to [my grandfather]. I think [the COVID-19 vaccine] should be required and [we should] take all necessary actions to keep everyone safe before returning” to campus.

First-year biology and environmental science student Audrey Frye agreed the college should require vaccinations for everyone before returning to campus.

“Once the virus stops spreading and life can heal and continue to go forth, I feel like the vaccine should be mandatory,” Frye said.

Second-year exploratory studies student Alex Terry called returning to campus without vaccines “potentially catastrophic.”

“I’d say it would probably be in everyone’s best interest to be able to have peace of mind now that everyone else at least on campus is safe of contracting the virus,” Terry said.

Not everyone agreed that a vaccine mandate is the best idea.

Fourth-year transfer studies student Kyanna Arrington said the vaccine might not be the healthiest choice for some.

“I’m not sure if it’s a black-and-white issue,” Arrington said. “I think it might have some grey areas.”

Arrington, who is running for a seat on the Student Government Association, added: “I think it might have to be a case-by-case basis because I know for the most part it’s healthy but I do know that some people have certain health issues and certain complications that it may not be the best option for them to take the [COVID-19] vaccine. But for the majority of the population, I know the vaccine is proven to be safe so far.”

Likewise, second-year computer science student Icram Doku said the COVID-19 vaccine should be encouraged but not be required to enter campus.

“The vaccines have not been proven to be that effective,” she said. “In fact, there have been cases where blood clots have been happening and people are not very trusting of it so if those events are true, then we don’t want to force people into getting [the COVID-19 vaccine] and then getting other diseases,” Doku said. “I think it should be a requirement to wear the masks and to social distance, but I don’t think the vaccine should be a requirement.”

Third-year communications student Amber Nathan agreed that AACC should not require vaccines, noting that those who plan to return to campus should decide for themselves whether to get the shots.

The COVID-19 vaccine “hasn’t been around very long and it’s already been shown that some adverse side effects are going to pop up for some people like with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the blood clots,” Nathan said. “I think it’s unfair for people to require others to basically be the government’s guinea pig and inject themselves with something that they know full well might not be 100% effective or safe just to come on campus and get an education. It’s not right.”

Johnson & Johnson paused distribution of its vaccine for 10 days in April after a woman who received it died and six others developed blood clots. The Centers for Disease Control has since said it is safe to distribute.

Lindsay said most colleges that are requiring vaccines have on-campus dorms, which can put students at high risk of spreading the virus.

“As a community college without residence halls, AACC has never required vaccinations of any kind” except flu shots for health sciences students and employees and for those doing clinical rotations.

She added, however, that if the state or county decides that schools must require the COVID-19 vaccine, AACC would have to comply.