To Vaccine or Not to Vaccine? Parents Answer the Question

Courtesy+of+Anagha+Dogiparthi%3B+Protestors+at+Westfield+Valley+Fair+Mall+express+their+oppositions+to+the+vaccination+mandates+using+slogans+and+posters+to+get+the+message+across.

Courtesy of Anagha Dogiparthi; Protestors at Westfield Valley Fair Mall express their oppositions to the vaccination mandates using slogans and posters to get the message across.

Anagha Dogiparthi

Ever since the rise of COVID-19, vaccination has been a topic of discussion and controversy for a variety of people. Recently, because of the vaccine mandate forcing thousands of California students to get vaccinated by a certain time, it became necessary for the topic to be discussed at an even more serious level. Some of these parents and teachers have begun protesting and rioting their rights at various popular destinations in order to help get their points across and prevent further mandates from being released, and various news reports comment on the effectiveness and rationality of these actions.

Although schools were shut down for the 2020-2021 academic year, there was an immense amount of debate regarding whether or not vaccinations should be required for students to attend in-person school. As more research has been conducted, and more schools have become adjusted to life with masks, California’s government has arrived at a conclusion to end the long-lived debate: starting from July 1, 2022, vaccinations would be required for students in grades 7-12 to attend school. Governor Gavin Newsom backs up his decision by stating ,“There’s still a struggle to get where we need to be. And that means we need to do more, and we need to do better.” 

This mandate came as a shock to parents and students in California schools,  many of them have chosen to share their opinions on the situation. Whitney Jiusti, a parent from Espardo, argues that she’s “not anti-vax by all means but believe[s] if there is a risk, you should have a choice and he’s trying to take that choice away from us and [she] doesn’t appreciate it.” Kim Arellanes, a grandparent from Ventura County, enforces this statement by saying that “[i]t’s not not about being anti-vax or pro-vax…. you cannot take the medical freedom away from us.” 

On the other hand, VCU student Ellie Munnikhyusen feels that “it’s important to make sure that we’re…making these measures to make sure everyone’s safe and we don’t have another outbreak, especially with the Delta variant.” Mabel Rodriguez, a parent with children in the San Diego area, mentions that “knowing other kids around them will be vaccinated [helps] keep her mind at ease.” 

Both groups of people feel very strongly about their opinions and decisions, and some passionate parents have even decided to keep their children home from school to effectively get their point across . Although 100% compliance was not expected by the school districts and the California government by any means, the sheer number of anti-vaxxers who are protesting against the requirements may turn out to cause more chaos.

As of now, approximately 85.2% of Santa Clara County residents aged 12 or older are fully vaccinated and resuming their lives as per usual. Considering the high percentage, it is  unlikely that students and parents will protest the mandatory vaccination at Wilcox, but the next academic year will truly reveal whether or not this controversy will unravel.

Mr.Jackson, teacher of Journalism as well as various English classes, expresses his opinion on the vaccine mandate: “Part of American culture is freedom[,] so I guess I feel like people should be free to make those decisions themselves, [specifically] about whether they want their children vaccinated or not. Although I see where the government is coming from, I don’t love government mandates about anything really.” Mr.Jackson’s thoughts echo the thoughts of several parents and teachers in California, and helps get perspective on the effectiveness of the mandate.

If every child in school is vaccinated, it will give parents and staff more confidence about preventing episodic closures. If students are now getting adjusted to going back into school, random closures could disrupt their learning process and cause them to struggle academically. Additionally, from a safety standpoint, states that have not been properly enforcing mask and vaccination requirements have significantly higher closures and cases than the schools that are. This would mean that increased safety protocols could mean a smoother transition into each school year, and an easier way for students to catch up on what they missed in the last year. 

Parent Vannessa Santos, who was called into the board meeting to support the mandate, clearly states her belief that “we need these vaccines in order to get through this pandemic and move forward.” This supports the idea that Governor Newsom was attempting to express: vaccinations would help move students forward in a time of difficulty. On the other hand, parent Lindsay Cid believes that the vaccine “has not gone through the years of trials like the other vaccines have” and that it “isn’t even protecting those who have been vaccinated.” Her statement indicates that she thinks the vaccinations will not make a difference, and that the Governor’s decision will not benefit students.

The controversy surrounding the vaccine mandates, especially at school, is most likely to not go away for a long time. Currently, residents of the Bay Area and other parts of California have been actively protesting the changes in front of local stores and malls in order to attract attention (see picture). A recent protest occurred in front of Westfield Valley Fair, where several parents carried signs with quotes such as “Make California Free for the Children” and “The E.U.A Cures are the Pandemic.” 

Like many of the other schools in the district, the Wilcox’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements will go into effect upon SCUSD’s specific approval date. 

Students, teachers, and staff can find updates about the vaccine mandate at Wilcox High School through the SchoolLoop website. General information for California residents can be found on the COVID-19 CA website.