Governor Murphy’s school vaccine mandate takes effect

December 10, 2021

East experiences a rise in  COVID-19 cases.

Vivian Rong ('23)

East experiences a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Scientific data shows that vaccination and testing requirements, coupled with strong masking policies, are the best tools for keeping our schools and communities safe for in-person activities.

— Governor Murphy

On August 23, 2021, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued an executive order, mandating that all state workers and school personnel Pre-K to Grade 12 be fully vaccinated by October 18.

Vaccine hesitancy comes from all around the board. In an interview conducted by the ABC, a health care worker named Jessica stated that she was prepared to lose her job in order to not take the vaccine. “We all have a choice [to take the vaccine]. I don’t think it should be for everybody.”

Many who work in hospitals have seen the worst of the worse, so why would they choose to abstain from the vaccine? The primary reason is that they don’t trust the vaccine due to the lack of testing and research. Despite the vaccine’s FDA approval, many believe that there has not been a sufficient amount of time to see the long-term bodily effects of the vaccine. In hospitals, workers have seen numerous patients come in due to adverse side effects stemming from the vaccine. Naturally, this has increased their skepticism and decreased vaccination rates.

One family who had previously contracted COVID-19 thought that getting the vaccine was unnecessary for them, as they already had natural immunity. Coupled with the adverse side effects, they believed that the risk of getting the vaccine outweighs the rewards, as they already have natural immunity.

Despite this, many New Jersey residents are supportive of the vaccine mandate.

Ms. Elizabeth Breen, a chemistry teacher at East, gave her approval of the vaccine mandate. “I think and hope that the mandate will bring us closer to getting back to a normal school environment at East,” she says.

Ms. Susanne Casey, an AP Physics and Infectious Diseases teacher at East also stresses the importance of getting vaccinated. “SARS-CoV-19 is an airborne, communicable disease. Vaccination is an important step in keeping our population safe,” she says.

The vaccine mandate issued by Governor Murphy is in an effort to convince those who are still on the fence, to go get vaccinated. “Scientific data shows that vaccination and testing requirements, coupled with strong masking policies, are the best tools for keeping our schools and communities safe for in-person activities,” said Governor Murphy.

Due to its rushed production, many were wary of the vaccine and unsure about its safety, wanting to wait until it received FDA approval. Yet even after its approval on August 23, many were still hesitant to get it. By issuing a vaccine mandate from Governor Murphy, the hope is to finally sway the small percentage of people left to get the vaccine.

With the executive order now implemented, those who fall under the umbrella of school or state workers who still haven’t received the vaccine will be subject to weekly COVID-19 tests. The executive order encompasses all state and school workers, even private and charter schools, as well as any part-time workers or volunteers that make regular visits to schools. Any state workers who work from home are expected to be vaccinated. However, testing will not begin unless the worker comes into the office.

This order also clarifies which medical conditions allow students to be exempt from wearing a mask in school. In order to be valid, the school must provide some sort of written documentation from a qualified medical professional.

Some schools in the New Jersey area have already been implementing vaccine mandates independently. For instance in Newark, all city employees must be vaccinated. There is no opt-out or testing option. Rutgers University has also implemented a similar mandate for its employees. The school announced that all workers have until December 8th to get vaccinated.

In comparison to other states, New Jersey ranks #9 in the list of partial vaccine doses. As of November 4th, about 75.4% of the population has a partial vaccine dose while about 66.5% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

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