Vaccinations at Bellarmine: students weigh in

Survey was sent to the student body to give their opinions on vaccination.
Photo by Toni Spellacy

Vaccination against the COVID-19 virus has been a hot topic this year. A natural question with school returning, along with social distancing, masks, and the continually looming pandemic: what do Bellarmine students think about vaccination, and what would they think about a required vaccine mandate for school?

Students were given an optional and anonymous survey to voice their options. Of the 195 students who answered, 85.1% are fully vaccinated. 

Some students responded to why they are not vaccinated. One said, “Because I don’t feel comfortable getting the vaccine yet, because it hasn’t been around very long and only the first Pfizer dose has been approved.” This feeling seems to be shared by a few students. Concerns about unknown long term effects are common, despite the recent approval of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.)

A couple of students expressed that they are not worried about their own health against COVID-19: “I believe that I don’t need the vaccine because I am very healthy and not at high risk.” 

An interesting discovery was that certain students have not gotten the vaccine because their parents didn’t want them to. Statements given include “I would like to get vaccinated; however, my parents are concerned about the safety of it.” Parents are ultimately in control of the healthcare of their children under 18, which most of the students at Bellarmine are. 

A more controversial question within the survey was whether or not students believe the vaccine should be mandated at Bellarmine. From the 195 respondents, 70.8% said a vaccine mandate here would be appropriate. 

Many students back their opinion by referencing other vaccines, such as TDAP and MMR, which are already required and therefore the COVID-19 vaccine should be as well. In the same way, one student cites another Jesuit school, Gonzaga University, that already has a vaccine requirement. 

Another point made was regarding less masking, and events such as sports games being safer for the community. Because of the indoor mask mandate by Governor Jay Inslee, one student says a vaccine mandate “would spark a controversy that would be unnecessary because we’d have to still wear masks anyways.” 

Along with this point, some believe that a vaccine requirement is altogether wrong and an infringement on people’s rights as Americans. One says,“People should have autonomy and control over their bodies. No one should be forced to be injected with something they don’t consent to. If they are willing, they should absolutely get one.”

Some responses include fears over long term and adverse effects of the vaccine, a concern shared by many in the months following the release of the COVID-19 vaccines. One student remarks on several reasons students may not be vaccinated “I know there are people like me who don’t yet feel comfortable with it, also kids whose parents may not allow them to get it, and also people who may not be able to get it for medical reasoning.” 

Only time will tell if a COVID-19 vaccine mandate at Bellarmine will ever happen. For now, it is up to the families of Bellarmine to make the right decision for themselves, and for the Lion community.