Vaccine or exemption?

A Q&A with a vaccinated student and an exempted student

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Are my friends going to be vaccinated? Are my professors going to be vaccinated? Will there be more people vaccinated or unvaccinated? Will people get upset if another person is or isn’t?

There are plenty of questions that students may have going into this next school year that may not be answered until well after the first day on August 30. However, there is one thing we do know–whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a contentious issue in the United States. Linfield is likely to be no exception.

The Linfield Review spoke to two students on different sides of the vaccine divide. Each student was interviewed separately but was asked the same set of questions. 

The point of this Q&A piece is not to sway students one way or another, but to show the backgrounds, ideas, and opinions of a small sample of their peers. 

 

Can you start with your year and what you’re studying?

CONNOR MORTON: Yeah, so my major is business management and minor in sports management, junior standing, and I play football for Linfield.

RACHEL GOINES: I am a theater major. And I am a fifth year.

Are you vaccinated against COVID-19 or are you planning to be before the start of fall 2021?

CONNOR: I’m not vaccinated and no, I’m not planning on getting one.

RACHEL: I am vaccinated.

Could you speak to why you made this decision?

CONNOR: Because of the recent research on young adults having enlarged hearts, and me coming from a family with hereditary heart issues–I did not want to take the chance until further research has been found and proven.

Rachel: For myself, so I don’t get COVID. I haven’t gotten COVID yet and I’m very thankful that I haven’t. For my family–my brother just in December 2019 had his first child and I want to make sure that when I visit them again I can be safe near my niece because I haven’t really seen her that much at all. I haven’t watched her grow up because I haven’t been able to go home to visit. My parents also–they decided to have kids very late, so they’re actually boomers born ’52 and ’53. I want to make sure that when I come home and visit them, I’m not the reason they died. 

But also, I’m very terrified of COVID, not just because of the overall “this is a very deadly virus,” but also when I found out about all of the horrible, horrible symptoms that people have. One of them was blood clots–and I had a very traumatic experience of having deep vein thrombosis and a pulmonary embolism.

Have you submitted your paperwork to the school yet? If so, could you speak to your experience?

CONNOR: I already submitted an exemption and got it approved. My exemption process went pretty smoothly when I actually filled it out–and then realized that the healthcare provider needs to sign it. But, unfortunately, my healthcare provider would not sign off any exemption forms for the COVID vaccine. And so then, I had to go through the school and they sent me a video that I had to watch and answer questions to. And then they approved me.

RACHEL: I have gotten the emails, but I keep on forgetting to send them scans of my vaccination card.

What was your initial reaction to Linfield’s new COVID-19 vaccine policy?

CONNOR: I knew it was going to happen. So I wasn’t very surprised by it. I just didn’t know if it was going to be able to stick in place, or going to be changed by the fall.

RACHEL: I was quite intrigued, I was really happy. I was intrigued on many levels because of the “requiring” part of the vaccinations because you don’t really–requiring is such a direct word.

I’m definitely in favor of it. I’m very glad that they are requiring vaccinations. Because, I’m in the theatre department and a theater major, and so vaccination and getting as close to normal as we can is very important to me and my department. Although we did truck along and improvise the 2020-2021 school year, it’s not the same as live theatre. And so with the requiring of vaccinations this fall, I get to work with my fellow students on certain things such as costume designing our fall production and that wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t have the required vaccinations because I wouldn’t be able to costume design anything.

Do you think schools have the authority or right to mandate COVID vaccine for students in your personal opinion?

CONNOR: I feel like it should be up to the person, because although they have an exemption, I found that it wasn’t in their favor to have me go through a process, to go through my health care provider and do all this stuff. When, me personally–I’ve done the research and know a lot about the vaccine. And so it should be my choice, whether I get it or I don’t.

RACHEL: Linfield itself? I feel like because it’s a private school–sure? Private schools have a lot more power over what they are able to do, whether it be not giving us three-day weekends when there’s a national holiday, or, let’s say, requiring vaccinations. 

Schools in general–oh, God there really is no black and white to it. I don’t really like thinking in black and white. So on one hand, personally, I think they should. Or I don’t want to go on a tangent because there’s a lot to think about in terms of policy and stuff, but personally I think yes. Because I feel like it teaches teamwork. I think valuing community is an admirable and valuable priority and I think schools that prioritize that are pretty okay.

Does the policy affect your view of Linfield, for better or for worse?

CONNOR: No, it doesn’t affect that at all. I know that a lot of schools have done the same thing. So no matter where I would have been at school, I know it would have been the exact same process.

RACHEL: I think [the school] definitely gained a few “cool points” from me. I think Linfield’s doing it for the betterment of our community and making sure that we can get back to normal, have more in person classes, and, you know, have attendance and stuff like that–normal college priorities. But I think because one of Linfield’s major areas in academics is nursing and pre-med sciences, it fits in.

Do you predict that more students will be vaccinated or unvaccinated this year?

CONNOR: I feel like a lot of people are a little scared to go through the exemption deal. And I think they’ll just think of it as like, “Oh, I can just go through a drive thru and get the COVID vaccine” instead of taking a few days to go through the exemption process, they’ll just go in and get the vaccine. So I think there’ll be more people vaccinated rather than unvaccinated.

RACHEL: My prediction is more vaccinated–I can’t really tell, honestly. But, there’s more opportunities with vaccinations than there was back in March and April, when we were getting last-minute notifications to get leftover vaccines. But I feel like with the availability being a little bit more accessible nowadays–within the last few months–I feel like more people are going to be vaccinated this fall.

For up-to-date information from the Centers of Disease Control on COVID-19 vaccines, please visit here.

Responses were edited for clarity and length. For more information on the editing process, please contact [email protected].