Mandating vaccines for the fall

Photo courtesy of Katherine Shambaugh

Thoughts on whether Georgia Tech has a responsibility to mandate vaccines for students

As the fall semester approaches, schools (with guidance from their state governments if they are public institutions) will continue to discuss and ultimately decide whether or not to mandate vaccination from their students and staff.

We understand that this is a delicate subject for discussion, and that there are a multitude of factors that must be considered to come to a consensus on this issue; which is why, after prudent discussion, we ultimately hold that Georgia Tech should mandate vaccination from students for the fall semester.

We posit this is the best way forward for our institution for three primary reasons: the responsibility we have towards the Georgia Tech and Atlanta community, the prospect of harm towards immunocompromised students and staff and the potential lack of vaccination for international students antecedent to arrival at Tech.

Above all else, we wish to express sympathy towards those who claim this issue is about personal agency in deciding to get the vaccine.

We hold it to be true that students do have a personal responsibility to get the vaccine and reap the benefits from doing so as well as the consequences from not doing so, however, we also believe that Georgia Tech has a responsibility to tend to the needs of its community.

One of those needs happens to be that of a safe learning environment for all in a world beginning to move on from a pandemic. Apart from the direct community on campus, Georgia Tech is immersed in the city of Atlanta, and is thus a part of this community as well and should do its utmost to help tend to its needs.

It should not place the needs of the Atlanta community above those of its students, however, we hold that in attending to the needs of the students, Georgia Tech will subsequently attend to the needs of the Atlanta community.

Building on the idea that Georgia Tech has a responsibility to administer safe environments for all students, we now turn to those who are perhaps the most at risk of an unvaccinated community: the immunocompromised students and staff.

If vaccination is not required before starting classes this fall, ultimately those who are immunocompromised that cannot get the vaccine for reasons of personal health will be at risk of receiving the virus from a healthy, unvaccinated student.

The third, but certainly not the last, reason we believe that Georgia Tech should mandate vaccination is because of the potential lack of vaccination for international students antecedent to arrival at Tech.

Many international students may come from countries that do not possess the privilege we have in the United States for mass vaccination sites available all over the country.

Thus, upon arrival at Georgia Tech they will be more susceptible to the virus than other students who have enjoyed the ability to receive a vaccine.

Due to this fact, it would be best to require all students to be vaccinated in order for Georgia Tech to insure safety for international students who could otherwise very well have the virus transmitted to them by an unvaccinated student.

To reiterate an imperative point, this is certainly an intricate problem posed to the Georgia Tech community, and many people have attempted to offer solutions. We respect them all, yet ultimately believe that mandating vaccinations is the best way to ensure Georgia Tech is tending to the needs of all of those who comprise its community.

The Consensus Opinion reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.