By: Raymond Nava
East Los Angeles College’s new guidelines to be allowed on campus are good, but could be slightly better. ELAC’s new policy says that in order to be allowed on campus, you must show proof of vaccination. This is good, but ELAC will still allow medical and religious exemptions. I would like to see ELAC remove religious exemptions from the policy and only allow medical exemptions.
Allowing people to be exempt from the vaccine on the grounds of religious beliefs is counterintuitive to what should be the larger goal. The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing and vaccinations are key to defeating it or at least getting it to a point where it’s controlled.
We need people to get vaccinated and unfortunately, there are people who still refuse to get vaccinated. A stricter vaccine mandate is needed to put pressure on those who don’t want to get vaccinated. If people are given the option to claim religious beliefs and be exempt, it will not help the issue of people continuing to be unvaccinated.
I understand that there is a small group of people who have legitimate medical reasons for claiming exemption. However, we need to have a full fledged vaccine only mandate as a way to get people vaccinated.
The more people that get vaccinated, the less likely it is for the virus to continue to spread or mutate into a more aggressive variant.
If people who are unvaccinated really want to go back on campus, then a stricter vaccine mandate could finally push them to get it. This also could help push people who aren’t necessarily opposed to the vaccine, they just haven’t gotten around to getting it, to finally get the vaccine.
If ELAC changed the mandate, not only would that protect the people at ELAC but it also simply benefits everyone off campus as they’ll be protected from the virus.
Even though the current policy is mostly air-tight, the option for religious exemption makes me apprehensive about going back on campus. Even though I’m fully vaccinated, there is the fear of being a breakthrough case. This is in part because my brother has refused to get vaccinated.
My mother received her vaccine in January, which means the efficacy of it has likely waned by now, making her more susceptible to a breakthrough infection. My brother choosing not to get vaccinated, makes me not want to risk going back on campus. If the campus had a vaccine only mandate, I would feel more comfortable returning knowing that everyone around me was vaccinated.
I believe ELAC should change their current policy to require the people who want to be on campus get vaccinated. Getting people vaccinated is too important, so if ELAC has the opportunity to get even just a few more people vaccinated, they absolutely should.
People should not be able to choose to be unvaccinated any longer. If this change is made and it blocks people from being on campus then so be it. However, if ELAC had a vaccine-only mandate, and it caused even just one person to get vaccinated, I would say it is worth it.