University of Illinois COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Should Be Applauded. It’s Public Health, Not Ideology.
Despite considerable pushback, I stand by my controversial opinion that dying is bad. It’s a hill I’m willing to live on.
With that in mind, I applaud the University of Illinois’ decision to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all students attending fall classes on all three of its campuses.
In an email message sent Monday, university President Tim Killeen wrote: “This requirement is consistent with our own scientific modeling of the risks associated with the spread of the virus and its variants. It is also consistent with the Illinois Department of Public Health’s goals.”
Wanting throngs of young people who live and attend classes together to be vaccinated against a highly contagious virus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans is also consistent with common sense. And while common sense is something many Americans struggled with since the pandemic began (I WON’T WEAR A FACE MASK BECAUSE THAT’S TYRANNY!!), it will be needed as we navigate this pivotal public health moment.
In case you hadn’t noticed, life has gotten better lately. COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in many places and the world is reopening, moving toward some new form of normalcy. You can thank science for that, as the vaccines have driven down the number of infections and, mercifully, the number of hospitalizations and deaths.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 62.4% of Americans ages 12 and up have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. About 53% of Americans ages 12 and up are now fully vaccinated. That’s about 45% of the total U.S. population, which is good, but not nearly good enough.
In Illinois, the numbers are comparable to the national averages: 67.8% of the 12-and-up population has at least one shot and 51.6% are fully vaccinated.
Again, good. But not good enough.
Like all nasty viruses, this one mutates and forms variants that can be more contagious, more deadly and, in a worst-case scenario, more capable of evading vaccines.
The more the virus lingers, spreading among those who refuse the vaccine, the higher the chance of a vaccine-resistant variant developing and moving us back to restrictions and higher risk.