William Tate IV, the new President of Louisiana State University (LSU), expressed concern over the low vaccination rate among LSU students.
The Advocate‘s Andrea Gallo wrote:
Tate […] said that LSU’s coronavirus vaccination rate among students of 26% is nowhere near as high as it needs to be. He warned of effects to the broader community if more students don’t get vaccinated.
“Let’s be clear about it: that number is not good,” Tate said. “Literally, we’re bringing a small city back to this geospatial region, and that small city is a vector.” [emphasis added]
Around 73% of LSU faculty members and more than 50% of staff members have received the vaccine, and LSU’s Faculty Senate has pushed to require mandatory coronavirus vaccinations this fall for students. LSU’s Board of Supervisors voted last month to urge the Louisiana Department of Health to add coronavirus vaccines to their schedule of required immunizations to attend Louisiana public schools.
Indeed, in towns such as Baton Rouge and Tuscaloosa where LSU and the University of Alabama are located, students comprise a significant number of their total populations. It is not an exaggeration that student bodies are the equivalent of a “small city.”
In the case of other schools, such as at the Santa Barbara City College, faculty members are concerned about the failure of schools to mandate student vaccinations. The Santa Barbara Independent‘s Delaney Smith reported on the concerns of the college’s Academic Senate and Faculty Association. She wrote that dozens of faculty members were asking that “their in-person classes scheduled this fall are moved back online.”
CNN‘s Madeline Holcombe wrote that the Delta Variant was a “more transmissible and possibly more dangerous strain of coronavirus.” She reported that, “Parts of the South, Southwest and Midwest are starting to see spikes in cases, and many of those states — such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi — are among those with the lowest rates of vaccination, according to the CDC.”
An Associated Press article reported that the Alabama Department of Public Health‘s Dr. Scott Harris said that the state of Alabama had inadequate testing for the Delta Variant. The article reported that “about one-third of Alabama’s counties, including most of the state’s heavily populated areas, are at very high risk for COVID-19 as vaccination rates continue to lag.”
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had announced in May that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that in states with low vaccination rates that masking could still be necessary. He said on Meet The Press that he would “go the extra mile to be cautious enough to make sure that I get the extra added level of protection,” as reported in the New York Times.
Many Alabamians haven’t been vaccinated due to political leanings, but as reported by The Conversation‘s Elisa J. Sobo, Diana Schow and Stephanie McClure, a “vaccine ambivalence” may also be a factor. They wrote:
Some participants who view COVID-19 as a significant health threat believe the vaccine poses an equivalent risk. We saw this particularly among African Americans in Alabama – not necessarily surprising given that the health care system has not always had these communities’ best interests at heart. The perceived conundrum leaves people stuck on the fence. Given the legacy of unequal treatment in communities of color, when balancing the ‘known’ of COVID-19 against the unknown of vaccination, their inaction may seem reasonable – especially when coupled with mask-wearing and social distancing.
On July 6, 2021, USA Today reported that “Andy Slavitt, who in early June ended his run as senior adviser to the White House for COVID response, told CNN on Tuesday that he expects the Pfizer vaccine to be approved in four to five weeks, followed shortly afterward by the Moderna inoculation.”
Any objections to requiring mandatory vaccinations at schools such as the University of Alabama because of the emergency status of vaccines should soon be a moot point.
T-Town in the Fall, when a small city will return to its geo-spatial region, would be far better protected from Covid-19 outbreaks if University of Alabama students were vaccinated, regardless of any vaccine hesitancy that its permanent residents may have had.