Fourth jab should be mandated if deemed necessary
With new variants taking shape across the globe, the district should prepare to require students and faculty to receive a second booster.
Opinion by Matthew Royer, News Editor
If a spring booster is necessary to protect against COVID-19, the LACCD should do everything in its power to mandate the shot across the district.
With cases at a pandemic low, mask mandates dropping across the country and a sense of freedom returning to Angelenos, COVID-19 has become endemic for many. But with new variants being found across the globe and the BA.2 version of omicron spreading rapidly across Oceania and Europe, another jab for vaccinated students will become more beneficial in protecting the campus from being ravaged by the virus once again.
Pfizer and Moderna will go in front of the FDA on April 6 to discuss the need for future boosters, according to Yahoo News. In the meantime, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is warning that with BA.2 infecting en masse across the Atlantic, a booster of more significant efficacy will be needed to protect the citizens of Earth.
“Many variants are coming,” said Bourla according to CBS News. “So, what we are trying to do… is to make not only a vaccine that will protect against all variants, including Omicron, but also something that can protect for at least a year.”
The LACCD has not wavered on mandating vaccinations for students and faculty over the past two years. Board Policy 2900, first adopted in August for the first two doses and later readopted on Jan. 22 for booster authorization, required students to receive the immunizations to take classes on Valley College’s campus. If a fourth booster is deemed imperative for the health and safety of students of the nine district campuses, the LACCD must take action and stamp approval on Board Policy 2900 once again.
Suppose a variant spreads quickly into April, possibly threatening a halt to the spring semester. In that case, the LACCD should take some of their own advice from past Board of Trustees President Steve Veres: “The health and safety of our employees and students remains the District’s priority.”
While there is something to be celebrated with the drop in COVID-19 cases nationwide, forgetting how quickly variants spread can damper recent successes. Whether it was the initial variant and delta of last summer or the overtaking of omicron during the holiday season, past strains of the virus have warranted a sense of preparedness.
As of Saturday, BA.2 already makes up 54.9 percent of cases in the United States. According to Harvard Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding on Twitter, this variant shows repeated patterns of all telltale variants including increased strength and signs of a new driving force behind the virus.
“It is necessary, a fourth booster, right now,” said Bourla, Pfizer CEO. “The protection that we are getting from the third, it is good enough -- actually, quite good for hospitalizations and deaths. It's not that good against infections, but it doesn't last very long. But we are just submitting those data to the FDA and then we're seeing what the experts also will say.”
People should have the option to refuse the second COVID-19 booster vaccination
Making the fourth booster vaccination mandatory is unnecessary.
By Isabella Vodos, Staff Writer
Although COVID-19 vaccines protect people from serious infection and death, many fully vaccinated people still catch the virus. An additional jab comes with marginal risk and every person should be free to make decisions about their own health. A second booster should not be mandated by the district.
The LACCD currently requires students to be fully vaccinated —which includes the initial two-dose sequence followed by a booster shot — in order to use its facilities. However, the administration does not have access to aggregated data from Cleared4 check-ins, making it impossible to know if this is an effective policy. Through rigorous testing and public data throughout the country, it has been shown that California currently has higher transmission than Florida, even though the sunshine state has far less stringent vaccine mandates.
Although the vaccine provides antibodies, they don’t last long.
According to NPR, while the fourth booster increases antibodies within the first month, protection against the virus drops by 50 percent three months later as people begin to lose antibodies.
Additionally, the second booster has shown that it inadequately stops transmission, due to the fact that the COVID-19 variant Omicron keeps mutating.
Not only does the booster provide short term protection, but it has additional risks.
The fourth vaccine can cause mild side effects such as headache, muscle pain, fever and nausea to sometimes severe allergic reactions. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention there were 11.1 cases of anaphylaxis per million doses administered. Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergic reaction that occurs shortly after vaccination. There have also been some cases of Myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.
Omicron has mutated into a less dangerous variant as it only causes mild cold-like symptoms. According to the John Hopkins University of Medicine, death rates have plummeted from 2 percent to 0.5 percent since Omicron became the dominant variant. The reduction of this variant can be attributed to natural immunity in addition to high vaccination rates.
A recent study by Center of Disease and Control and Prevention found that those exposed to COVID-19 were able to shield the delta variant better than vaccinated individuals.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a report by attorneys George J. Annas, Wendy K. Mariner, and Wendy E. Parmein 2008 explaining that individuals should not be obligated to inject themselves, as such a mandate violates civil liberties.
“The notion that we must ‘trade liberty’ for security’ is both false and dangerous,” wrote ACLU attorneys in the report. “It is false because coercive actions are seldom conducive to public health protection. It is dangerous because it provides a never-ending justification for the suppression of civil liberties while failing to safeguard public health.”
Their point proved that vaccinating is a threat to individuals as it forces them to take actions against their own will. Freedom should always come before security.
Both unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals should be aware of the health concerns. The new variant Omicron is easily transmittable and no district should mandate a vaccine that will provide low protection and restrict freedom. Not making another booster mandatory will allow the body to fight the virus naturally.