HARRISON HAMM, Opinion Editor—It appears that we are entering the home stretch of the pandemic. The United States is distributing more vaccines every day. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Even still, we are months away from full mass distribution of the vaccine. We’ve seen the challenges that come with getting everyone two doses, and for that reason every state in the U.S. is prioritizing the elderly, frontline workers, and those with underlying health conditions.
Universities like Denison have begun to talk about getting college students vaccinated. Denison is an approved vaccine distribution site, and president Adam Weinberg’s latest campus-wide communication says that Denison is “readying all necessary equipment and other resources to act in that capacity.”
He also makes clear that there is “no timetable” for distribution of the vaccine to the campus community.
Along with everyone else, I look forward to getting the vaccine. But I also would like to bring up a concern that has been present in various forms since the beginning of the pandemic: no one should get to jump the line.
The limited availability of the vaccine, and the obvious necessity of getting doses to the most vulnerable people in society, makes me wary of a college campus getting mass doses early in the process.
This concern is similar to the testing dilemma last spring. There was a time when tests were not nearly as available as they are now. That meant it rubbed some the wrong way in the sheer number of tests that organizations like sports leagues used.
There was reasonable concern that those tests could have been used in a more productive way.
It should be noted that both vaccines and testing carry significant positives regardless of their use. Increasing immunity naturally reduces the spread of covid-19. No one wants to see vaccines go to waste. It is also important that everyone recognizes the effectiveness, safety, and necessity of the vaccine.
But with the exception of those with underlying conditions, college students do not need the vaccine now in the way that almost every other section of the population does.
My grandparents, both of whom are 80-plus and live in West Virginia, have already received both doses of the vaccine. That’s great! We’re lucky that they live in a state that has done a great job of distributing its vaccines.
But I would be troubled if a college began giving students doses before my grandparents received theirs. The same goes for my parents, who are over 50, and any other members of society who need it more than we do.
I hope that privileged colleges like Denison keep this in mind as they begin to discuss acquiring vaccines for students.
We’re approaching a time when everyone will be able to get vaccinated and we won’t have to worry about the deadly disease rampaging this country. In the meantime, let’s do our best to protect the vulnerable.