The Controversy Surrounding School Involvement in Politically Divided Covid-19 Vaccines

By Elliana Bowers, Staff writer

The line inches forward. The dread in my stomach deepens with each shuffle. Is this what America has come to? The left wing fascist forces have won out and citizens everywhere are submitting to the government’s enslaving Covid-19 vaccine. It’s a known fact Fauci concocted Covid-19 in a lab. Not to mention this vaccine baloney is just a cover so the government can implant us with chips. Leftist Biden is forcing us all to become sheeple. This is the end of freedom as we know it. 

While this may not be the most common viewpoint, many have expressed concerns about the Covid-19 vaccine. However, this issue can’t simply be ignored since Americans are being forced to face it head on. The omnipresence and controversy of Covid-19 has emanated to even the most sacred parts of life, such as public education. 

For the first time many are seeing an overlap between their private medical decisions and public schooling. Due to partnerships with Mosaic Pediatrics, La Pine Community Health Center, St. Charles Health System, and other institutions, the Bend-La Pine school district was able to host free vaccine clinics for students 16 years and older; the first clinics began at Bend High School on April 29th . 

Between adults in the school system and parents across the board, there were various opinions on whether the vaccine should be held during school hours or at school in general because of the political divide. 

Following the vaccine clinic at Bend High School, political polarization was represented in the droves of protesters that surrounded the campus rallying against those that decided to get their first dose.

“Unfortunately Covid-19 has been really politicized so I think that in of itself made it difficult to have a vaccine clinic at school,” said Pam Orton, resident nurse at Summit. 

Orton mentioned that her daughter was quite nervous to participate in the clinic at Summit because of what happened at Bend High.

Parents alike were apprehensive about the clinics because of the student-directed aspect of them—leaving many parents in the dark and without control on their children’s decisions. 

“Leading up to the clinic many parents were interested, many had questions, and many were definitely not interested and wanted to make sure their students didn’t get it,” Orton said. 

Apprehension about the vaccine was shared by both parents and students. “I didn’t want to get it, the vaccine came out so soon, it just all seems so experimental. I don’t know the long term effects, nobody does. I’m not sure I want to put that in my body,” said an anonymous Summit junior.

Laine Wallace, Summit senior, explains her mom’s discomfort with her getting the vaccine even though she was adamant about getting it at the first clinic. Wallace’s mom was concerned about the long term effects the vaccine could create, and was urging her not to get it, or at least wait a while before the effects were unearthed.

“But, I don’t want to miss out on everything that happens when you’re young. I’d rather just take the risk and be able to enjoy life again,” Wallace said.

It’s not just about having a normal life again, the vaccine promises a healthy life for countless people. It shouldn’t be easily forgotten that almost 600,000 people have died from Covid-19 and many more remain detrimentally ill—a threat still looming on the surface.  

“I could get sick from the vaccine, I could likely get sicker from the virus, but just saying no to everything and not trusting anybody is no way to live a life as far as I’m concerned,” said Patrick Kilty, History and Government teacher at Summit.

Kilty knows that there will be a risk in getting the vaccine, just as there is a risk in driving to school. He stresses that it’s all about trusting the medical professionals, but many are skeptical of the vaccine because of its rapid release. Kilty expresses that the distrust in the vaccine opens doors for people to be distrusting of their government and fellow citizens.

“It makes me sad that so many people question the validity behind science, and the vaccination, and the disease,” Kilty said, “I think as long as the goal is to keep society at large healthy, why are people pushing away the idea of getting vaccinated.”  

Despite the differing and sometimes problematic opinions about the vaccine, It’s become a topic that makes an appearance most, in schools. With the help of social media, and so many posting their arms wrapped up with a band-aid and a “Just Got Vaccinated Sticker”, it cannot be denied that getting vaccinated has become a trend of sorts within the student body and community as a whole. 

Many claim that getting the vaccine is helping the common good and therefore everyone that can get it should. If one chooses not to get vaccinated they will face scrutiny unless they can provide a medical or otherwise legitimate reason for not getting it. 

“Whatever side of the fence you are on, it’s fine to be there and nobody is going to pressure one way or another,” said Branden Thompson, Statistics teacher.

However, a good number of the Summit student body continue to encourage their peers to get vaccinated. After the fist clinic, students could walk into any classroom and hear someone talking about their sore arm and how happy they are that so many high schoolers are getting it. One could also hear complaints about those who chose to opt out of the vaccine, calling them disagreeable or selfish. The pressure students and even teachers place on the need to get vaccinated invades into the common conversation.

For many, this pressure stems from the forever longing to return to a somewhat typical high school experience. 

“It was important for me because I just really want to get back to how things were,” Wallace said, “We gotta beat this pandemic! And these are the steps forward, the vaccine is the step forward.”

The vaccine promises many students an enjoyable and seemingly normal summer while it causes others to be distrustful of the possible outcomes it could pose.

Remember to keep in mind that those not getting the vaccine have their reasons. Many people may have an autoimmune disease, cancer, or an allergy to the ingredients. Give them space, treat them like human beings, and remember it’s their choice.

“People who are choosing to get vaccinated have good reasons and so do people who are choosing not to,” Thomson said. Regardless of the political tensions, it is necessary we understand that everyone will think differently.

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