EDITORIAL: School Vax Showdown Tonight, Give Us Jabs

Tonight, the Corvallis School Board will consider requiring COVID vaccinations for eligible students attending in-person classes. We support this idea, and note a number of school boards around the country have already made this move, including the one for Los Angeles, the nation’s second largest school district.

We understand the current climate makes this a potentially controversial decision, but we question if it should be. Physicians overwhelmingly favor vaccination, the American Medical Association reports more than 96% of them have chosen vaccination for themselves, and the American Academy of Pediatricians has gone full court press to plea that parents vaccinate.

Not all parents will agree with our view, but we believe the School Board’s first obligation must be to the basic health and wellbeing of the children we entrust them with — and in this instance, there is a vaccine authorized for emergency use, and we are most definitely in the middle of an emergency. In Oregon, as of October 7, 525 children have been hospitalized with COVID, and five have died.

According to Johns Hopkins, the vaccine authorized for kids 12 and older lowers transmissibility among both peers, and in the greater community — and breakthrough infections have proved generally less severe than those among the unvaccinated. Additionally, Johns Hopkins says that vaccination “reduces the virus’ chance to mutate into new variants that may be even more dangerous.

Corvallis schools can, and in our view should, offer online-only options for unvaccinated students. We understand this may not be an ideal outcome, but we also believe it needs to be accepted, given the public health ramifications. Also, as no small aside, avoiding children going in and out of quarantine every time they’re exposed over the school year should be incentive enough for a vaccine requirement. 

Take the account of a second-grader from Milwaukie, Oregon, who has only been in the classroom a total of seven days this year due to two quarantines for COVID exposure. With each 14-day quarantine, this child risks getting further and further behind.

Finally, for all the noise about requiring vaccination for in-person learning, we believe the vast majority Corvallisites would not only support such a decision, but would be quietly grateful. 

So we encourage the School Board to make a decision that is right for everyone in our city. We support required COVID vaccines for all medically-able students.