App State has introduced an extravagant vaccine incentive program. Appalachian Ski Mountain season passes, $1,000 scholarships, AirPods, on-campus parking passes and gift cards are a few of the prizes offered in a campus-wide lottery for fully vaccinated students. As well-intentioned as this program is, gift cards and concert tickets are not going to get enough vaccines in students’ arms. Only 52% of students are vaccinated. It’s time App State administration bites the bullet and requires vaccination on campus for everyone’s safety.
On Sept. 3, the university began requiring weekly tests for unvaccinated students, faculty and staff. This safety measure is a step in the right direction, but no amount of testing can replace vaccination. Breakthrough cases among the vaccinated are becoming more and more common. As of Sept. 13, App State reportedly has 56 active cases and Watauga County has 78 active cases. The presence of unvaccinated individuals on campus increases the overall likelihood of cases and puts everyone, regardless of vaccine status, at risk. The best way to decrease cases and prevent further variants is to get shots in people’s arms.
A common argument against mandatory vaccination is that it is an attack on personal freedom. It’s not. Requiring vaccination is not a violation of students’ rights. The unvaccinated still have the right to attend App State, just not to attend classes in person and live on campus. You have the right to not get vaccinated, but you don’t have the right to put other’s lives at risk. Vaccination is a matter of personal responsibility. If you are not responsible enough to care for yourself and your classmates, then stay home. The unvaccinated should not be able to participate in campus life alongside those who followed the rules and got their shot like they were supposed to. It’s time the unvaccinated start bearing the weight of the pandemic.
We’re all sick of the pandemic, but we can’t pretend it’s over when it’s not. Nationwide, reported cases are about 300% higher this Labor Day weekend than last year. App State claims to be concerned for the safety of its students, faculty and staff yet holds a 40,000 person concert, no masks or vaccines required. What’s going to end the pandemic is getting vaccinated, and the unvaccinated are only dragging it out. The longer it takes for everyone to get their shots, the longer we all have to deal with masks, quarantine and restrictions. App State must require vaccination for in-person classes and living on campus, so we can all get back to normal life, or who knows how much longer we’ll have to deal with COVID-19.