EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – With more vaccines going into arms, college campuses across the country are slowly inching closer towards reopening for in-person classes.
A few universities are even taking an extra step by making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for their students and staff.
“I haven’t experienced this in my life and I’m sure I won’t, I hope I won’t experience this in my life again…” Sebastian Quinones, a graduate student at the University of El Paso tells KTSM.
Rutgers University in New Jersey made such a decision on March 25, saying students must be vaccinated before attending in-person classes. Nova Southeastern University in Florida following Rutger’s footsteps, mandating that all students and employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the start of the fall semester.
As the debate requiring vaccines reaches college campuses, students in El Paso react to the enforcement of vaccinations.
Some welcome the possible policy, arguing other vaccines such as the measles and meningitis are already required. Students also say the step is necessary to begin transitioning back to a form of normal.
“I think for the general public’s safety not only for students but for the faculty…professors…custodial and things of that nature it would make sense to make this mandatory,” Quinones said.
Quinones feels Universities should have some plan of action to reduce virus spread before reopening campuses, pointing out El Paso’s High number of cases among typically college age students.
Data from El Paso’s Public Health Department shows that the 20 to 29 age group makes up the majority of infections at 26,923 as of Saturday, April 3.
This trend is similar to the rest of the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that young adults in the age range of 18 to 29 makeup 22.4% of all recorded cases in the U.S.
However, not everyone feels that an official mandate is ethical. Annelise Validivia, a former UTEP student says, ”I don’t think that they should push something like that on students especially when not everyone knows fully all of the side effects or what could happen in the long term to our bodies…”
Instead, Valdivia feels that schools should offer “a place where [students] can register for classes and still do them at home.”
University officials with UTEP tell KTSM that at this time, “The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory, but it is encouraged.”
Although universities have the power to mandate vaccinations, students, faculty and staff who do not want to receive the vaccine can object if they cite health or religious reasons.