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Vaccine Mandate is a Jab Well Done

People line up for Covid-19 vaccinations outside Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
People line up for Covid-19 vaccinations outside Hynes Convention Center in Boston. By Truong L. Nguyen
By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.

Harvard’s vaccine mandate seems to be working. As of Monday afternoon, a full 93 percent of students and 95 percent of University employees were vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the University’s testing dashboard. If Harvard were its own independent nation, we would have the highest vaccination rate in the entire world.

Our campus has embraced the jab (or jabs, for our Moderna and Pfizer followers), and for good reason. Completing a vaccination series against Covid-19 is crucial in protecting our community against the ongoing pandemic. We continue, as before, to encourage everyone who can to get their shot as soon as possible. Doing so is a matter of public and social responsibility; it remains the easiest way to further the fight against a disease that has already claimed millions of lives worldwide. It’s also one of the easiest paths to a safe, fun, and productive in-person semester.

Yet we caution that our exceptionally high vaccination rates haven’t rendered our community a safe bubble — not entirely, anyway. Many still remain at risk; our epidemiological impact isn’t limited to our fellow, largely vaccinated, young peers. The faculty and staff who make campus life possible don’t exist exclusively within the confines of our university: They go home, after long lectures or exhausting dining hall shifts, to their families and loved ones, to a comparatively under-vaccinated, under-protected reality. Minimizing the number of unvaccinated affiliates is the easiest way to limit on-campus spread and accidental exposure, protecting those who are only one degree of separation away.

Of course, not everyone is fully vaccinated and, given realities like medical exemptions, it’s unlikely everyone will be. The question then is what to do with those who aren’t. What are the duties of the unprotected amongst us?

Luckily, our administration has answered that question for us. Harvard has issued specific guidelines for these students. They must, for example, wear a mask outside if distancing is not possible and are encouraged to distance even indoors with a mask on. We urge our peers to respect these measures.

Those who have received the vaccine have taken a crucial step towards protecting themselves and their community; the unvaccinated — whether unable or unwilling to take this step — must be hypervigilant in following public health guidance. We do not wear our vaccination statuses like scarlet letters, so it is incumbent on the unvaccinated to take it upon themselves to protect those around them.

That being said, it is now very clear that the vaccinated can also become infected with and spread Covid-19, despite the all-important jab. We need Harvard to complement its vaccine mandate with clear procedures that will support and care for students should they, despite their best efforts, become infected. Doing so would help dispel student worries, demystifying the threat of infection and offering much-needed emotional relief to those who, after their jabs, are still concerned about a positive test result.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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