Journey Ahead Update: Let's Talk About Vaccination
To require vaccination or not require vaccination? That is the question.
The answer? It’s complicated.
After all, the Anderson University COVID-19 Task Force strongly encourages that our faculty, staff and students receive a COVID-19 vaccination (in consultation with their health care provider). It remains the best way to control the spread of the virus. Vaccination keeps ourselves--and, by extension, our friends and family members--healthy and safe.
But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Instead, let’s take a few minutes to explain why we do not intend to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory prior to the fall semester.
Let’s be clear: This is a decision based on data, science and the singular focus on keeping our campus community healthy and safe.
Here’s how we came to our decision:
- The two readily available COVID-19 vaccines are currently available under United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA).Pharmaceutical manufacturers have to go through a lot of hoops to get medicines approved for public use. In the event of an emergency (like, say, a pandemic), the FDA can eliminate certain bureaucratic barriers, significantly speeding up the process. To be absolutely clear, the available COVID-19 vaccines available are demonstrably safe. But, given that they are only available under an emergency use authorization, we will not jump the gun, so to speak, by requiring the vaccine until there is more data.
- Current trends suggest rates of infection in our region are moving in the right direction. Cases are trending lower, and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s forecasting modelsshow, at worst, stability in infection rate or, at best, a continued downward slope. If that holds, we can reasonably assume we’ll be in an even better place by the start of the fall semester in August.
- We appear to be approaching herd immunity on campus--and the more people who are vaccinated, the greater the probability of herd immunity. We know this because we’ve been crunching some numbers. Generally, we know how many people on campus have been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive over the past year, and we have a pretty good handle on the number of those who’ve been vaccinated. That data analysis suggests we're approaching the point where the risk of a major outbreak is low.
These are some of the things we’ve been considering at length over the past several weeks. Indeed, talk of vaccination has dominated our recent meetings, representing hours of debate. At this point, the University has chosen not to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for its students and employees.
Can circumstances change? Of course. The environment may change. A new strain of the virus may change the calculations and our protective measures. We’ve all had to pivot quickly over the last year, and it would be irresponsible to offer a blanket guarantee of what campus will look like this fall, and what policies might be necessary. However, right now, we do not expect to require COVID-19 vaccinations.