The voice of De Anza since 1967.

Debate: Must De Anza students be vaccinated?

June 18, 2019

Pro – Immunizations necessary for student safety

De Anza currently allows U.S. students to enroll without having completed vaccinations. However, with recent outbreaks of measles rapidly spreading across the country, the college should consider revising this policy and require all students to provide up-to-date immunization records.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, more than 800 individuals in 23 states, including California, have contracted measles since January. This is the largest spike in the spread of measles since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000.

Also according to the CDC,  if one person has measles, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

Measles can stay in the air for up to two hours after a sick person coughs or sneezes and can stay on surfaces for many hours, according to the CDC. College campuses are especially susceptible for the disease to spread because of the high volume of people going into and out of buildings.

Many colleges in California, including the UCs and CSUs have adopted new policies requiring immunization for enrollment.

Two groups of students at De Anza may find it difficult to comply with such a rule: Those who have previously used California’s now-overturned personal exemption laws to avoid vaccination and now are behind, and those who do not have easy access to health care.

Although students who are behind on immunizations may take some time to catch up on their shots, it is necessary to achieve herd immunity and prevent diseases from spreading.

For students with limited access to health care and vaccines, following this policy is even more critical. Uninsured and underprivileged students are often at an even greater risk if vaccines are optional. If these students are infected, the costs of treatment may far exceed the costs of preventative measures such as immunizations.

Besides, these rules typically have a one year grace period, allowing for students to access vaccines, often with the help of campus health staff.

Although certain health conditions may prevent some people from receiving immunizations, putting one’s personal convictions above other people’s safety cannot be justified.

For the sake of student health and safety, requiring vaccinations for enrollment is a necessity.

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Con – Requiring Vaccinations: Yet another form of discrimination

Requiring vaccinations for admission to De Anza College would discriminate against financially disadvantaged students and those with adverse reactions to vaccines.

According to a 2017 U.S. census estimate, 12.3% of American people live in poverty, totaling nearly 40 million individuals. In order to climb the ladder out of poverty, many seek to attend college.

But to obtain a higher degree, they face a myriad of challenges.

Even when scholarships are available, not all eligible students can earn them. In 2015, only 47% of the 4003 community college California Dream Act Cal Grants were awarded, according to an EdSource article. Many students forgo this opportunity due to bureaucratic hurdles.

Requiring vaccination would add yet another layer of obstacle.  

Without the immediate coverage that health insurance provides, the costs of vaccinations can be very pricey. Walgreens offers vaccinations for HPV at $250 for a first dose and $215 for second and third doses.

Schools that require vaccination for enrollment, such as CSU, typically call for at least six immunizations. Fulfilling this mandate would cost a student well over $1,000 without insurance.

According to a 2017 U.S. census estimate, about 12% of non-elderly people in the country live without health insurance. De Anza Health Services offers cheaper vaccinations, but only to the aid of currently enrolled students and not to the general public, according to their website.

This means that many aspiring students cannot afford to get vaccinated, resulting in a decline in people that can tangibly afford college and escape poor living conditions.

Another group of students that this rule would harm are those who may have adverse reactions to vaccines. Although California allows medical exemptions for vaccination, families with limited healthcare access may find it difficult to obtain a physician’s note.

With that in mind, colleges may violate the constitutional right of freedom of speech by requiring students to be vaccinated for admittance to college.

De Anza students today come from very different walks of life. Requiring vaccinations would take away the rights of many to attend our school and leave it open only to those who can afford the vaccinations and do not face negative health repercussions.

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