Editorial: Normalcy on the horizon, vaccine approval and mandates


The ISD Editorial Board explores the FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine mandates. 

Editorial Board

Editor’s Note: Editorials are representative of the views of all Editorial Board members. One or two members will compile these views and write an editorial.

Life has seemingly been in chaos since March 2020. June 2021 came along and normalcy appeared on the horizon. If you were vaccinated, you no longer needed to wear a face mask, and life seemed to fall back upon people’s faces. Normalcy had once again seemed to reappear. 

Aug. 2021 seems to be a whole new game. Exhaustion has once again reappeared on people’s faces. A worry that we cannot seem to shake and invades every ounce of life that it can, COVID-19 has a tight hold on us. It does not seem to be letting go either. 

Aug. 23 is a HUGE day in terms of this awful pandemic. It is the day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer vaccine. This can give us a glimmer of hope that now the pandemic is closer to being done, or at the very least being more manageable. 

Now that one of the vaccines has been approved, a mandate may be on the horizon. We have seen mandates for many vaccines throughout the history of the U.S. A mandate would not be unlawful and would hopefully hurry along with our return to the normalcy we all crave so deeply.

Businesses mandating the vaccine have already begun. We have seen Disney, Walmart, Uber, Netflix and Google mandate their employees to receive the vaccine. Now, one may think this is unlawful or an infringement on the employee’s personal rights, but it has been ruled safe. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Justice have ruled that it is lawful for businesses to require their workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but they must allow for religious or medical exemptions. Allowing businesses to mandate this makes the return to work much less scary for everyone involved. 

Another place we will likely see a vaccine mandate is in K-12 schools. Currently, all fifty states, United States territories and the District of Columbia have requirements for vaccinations. These requirements allow children to go to school and be in childcare facilities. The school requirements differ from state to state, but most do follow the vaccine schedule outlined by the CDC for children. 

This allows schools and childcare facilities to hopefully stay safe and avoid the risk of an outbreak. These requirements do, of course, allow for exemptions under certain circumstances. It would be ludicrous to expect everyone to receive every vaccination ever with no exemptions allowed. Mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, once permitted for children under the age of 12, seems like a future we will see soon. 

Higher education institutions requiring a COVID-19 vaccination mandate would impact all of us here at Iowa State. Vaccinations such as the one for meningitis have already been required at many higher education institutions. It is not outlandish for this to be a requirement as so many students from various areas are flocking to a new place. Hoping to prevent the spread of a very damaging virus from wreaking havoc among the student body is understandable. 

Indiana University has already mandated that students need to have a COVID-19 vaccine before returning to campus this fall. The university’s policy stated that both staff and students must be fully vaccinated unless they qualified for an exemption. There was controversy regarding this mandate, and some students decided to sue the university. A judge did not uphold their lawsuit, siding with the university. The university does not require the students and staff to be vaccinated. They have choices to either apply for an exemption or find somewhere else to attend. 

Vaccination mandates are not a way to take away someone’s rights. They are an attempt to keep the whole population safe. If we are craving normalcy so severely, we have to do whatever we can to get back there. 

As some board members pointed out, we do not have control over this virus. One’s “personal choice” to remain unvaccinated and not to wear a mask could lead to the deaths of many others. Now that the FDA has approved one of the vaccines, there is no excuse not to get vaccinated (unless you apply for an exemption, of course). 

Normalcy is on the horizon; we can see it, yet we cannot reach it. Vaccinations can help propel us forward into the place we all desperately want to be.