Panthers debate COVID-19 safety



With school closing its first full week of classes, some students online continue to wear the mask.


As with many other rapidly spreading illnesses, the COVID-19 vaccine was released to the public under the EUA in December of 2020, only eight months after the U.S. declared a state of emergency. 

At first, the vaccine was only available to those who were above a certain age or those who were immunocompromised. As more research came out about the vaccines, it became more widely available. More than 12 months later and the vaccine is a hot topic among almost every workplace. CNN wrote on the topic, stating: “72% of unvaccinated workers vow to quit if forced to get the vaccine.” While the CNN article focused mainly on health care workers.  Some students think UNI should require students to test regular or get vaccinated, while others believe the vaccine should be totally at will. While each student fights for what they believe is right, many disagree with what “right” would look like today. 

University alumni José Jaramillo does not believe that the vaccine should be required for students, but does believe if students choose not to get vaccinated, they should be subject to weekly or frequent testing. Along with these guidelines, Jaramillo believes that students who choose to willingly give over their vaccine information should receive some sort of assistance. While willing to be flexible, Jaramillo wants to be able to keep himself and his classmates safe. In the spring of 2021, Jaramillo’s father passed away after testing positive and fighting COVID-19. Because of this, the family has tried their hardest to protect themselves and those around them. 

Although Jaramillo says the vaccine would be beneficial on campus, some think it would be taking away their freedom.

Junior Digital Media major, Grace Juhl, has not gotten vaccinated and does not believe that places of work or school should be allowed to “force” students into getting vaccinated for an education. “We don’t know enough about it [the vaccine]. We don’t know long term studies and I won’t put something into my body until I know how it’ll affect me,” during an interview Juhl expressed her concerns. While school is a much bigger concern for her than work, she explained that she feels the same across the board. Juhl has no plans or intentions to transfer out of UNI, but claims if the vaccine became mandated, she would consider earning her education elsewhere. Juhl works as a shift lead at Walgreens in Cedar Falls, where she is required to always wear a mask, unless eating during designated breaks. “I would much rather wear a mask than put something I don’t know about into my body,” Juhl stated, saying she would be totally fine with a mask mandate. 

Out of the four students I spoke with, two of them believe that the university should begin to mandate the vaccine. One UNI senior stated, “I feel like you’re just inconsiderate at this point if you won’t get a vaccine or wear a mask.” Going on to explain that their concern isn’t for themselves, but others on campus that don’t have the ability to fight something like COVID-19. 

While each student presents valid concerns, no one has been able to come to an agreement on what would be best regarding the vaccine. For now, each student agreed that UNI should just continue to mask up.