How students view a vaccine mandate

DeAnza students unfazed by future mandates, masking

Students at De Anza High School are mostly unfazed by the prospective mandate that students age 12 and above receive vaccinations, but some express disapproval of the idea. 

This health order, along with many others, has been issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom  in California’s efforts to protect residents from the ongoing threat of infection. Effective after FDA approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12 and below, the order will require students in California from grades K-12, to take the vaccine. 

The order follows the vaccine mandate for businesses that became effective in late September, requiring patrons to be fully vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19 in the prior three days before entering indoor areas. Affected businesses include restaurants, gyms, and other indoor establishments with an increased risk of the virus spreading. 

In justification of the new requirements, a media release from Contra Costa Department of Health Services stated that “unvaccinated residents account for 95.9% of the county’s deaths so far.” That supports other evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective and have drastically lowered the chances of hospitalization in those who have received them. 

This release also details that case rates are five times higher in unvaccinated residents, while “hospitalization rates are approximately 16 times higher, and death rates are approximately 22 times higher.” In favor of this mandate, the release quoted Dr. Chris Farnitano, health officer for the department, said, “This order is necessary now to save lives, protect our overburdened healthcare system, and slow the pandemic enough to keep our schools open.”

At De Anza High School, students have formed their own opinions on mandates

A verbal survey I conducted of 22 randomly sampled students shows that a majority understands the importance of the mandates. All students responded with a “yes” to the question, “Are you aware of the reasoning behind the recent mask and vaccine mandates?”   

However, 10 of the 22 students did not think mandating the vaccine was a wise idea. When prompted to expand on their stance, one student explained that those already skeptical continue to develop conspiracy theories as new controversial health orders are issued. 

On the flip side, those in support of the mandates share a common thought — mandates are necessary for the return to normalcy.  

Notably, all students expressed awareness of the idea that requiring vaccines for students is not new, many recalling their vaccination record requirements to enroll in school.

The health-related values of these mandates are widely accepted at De Anza. 

Graciela Lechon, a Spanish teacher, mentioned minor inconveniences related to the health orders in place. She talked about her experience with masks not being the most enjoyable. She finds it difficult to pursue her hobby of dancing while wearing one. However, she understands the necessity of it when conversing with those who are vulnerable.  

 Inconveniences caused by the coming mandates have caused many students who were previously hesitant to get the vaccine. Among those surveyed, a handful had gotten the vaccine exclusively to continue participating in activities otherwise prohibited by the mandates. 

 One De Anza sophomore described his experience with the new mandates as not causing “any major inconveniences” in his daily life. Although he mentioned that the new orders helped drive him and many acquaintances to get the vaccines in fear of being barred from some experiences.