It’s time to get rid of vaccine requirements


Ash Hallas | Special to The Union

On Sept. 7, 2021, El Camino College, the El Camino College Board of Trustees voted to make vaccinations mandatory for students, staff, and faculty to access the college campus. 

In an agreement with El Camino College’s faculty, the college agreed to follow the guidance of both the CDC and Los Angeles County Department on their COVID-19 policy updates. 

El Camino had mostly adhered to this agreement. However, many of the COVID-policy updates set by Los Angeles County and the CDC have been significantly delayed or ignored at El Camino College.

Over the course of the past year, El Camino College has loosened COVID-19 policy restrictions on mask mandates, wristband requirements, and health screening kiosk procedures. The only COVID-19 policy that has remained unchanged is the vaccine requirement. 

While requiring vaccinations was the most plausible option for prioritizing safety on campus when the spread of COVID-19 was at its peak, requiring a vaccine won’t make much of a difference for campus safety currently. 

Much like El Camino College and CDC officials have suggested, The Union believes that vaccinations are the strongest defense against the novel coronavirus. However, it is ultimately the choice of each individual if they want to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a choice that should not come at the expense of anyone’s education.

The Union staff recommends that the Board of Trustees lift the vaccine requirement at El Camino College.

El Camino College has been struggling with student enrollment since the first full semester during the pandemic in fall 2020.

According to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, enrollment rates at El Camino have decreased by nearly 30% compared to the fall 2019 semester. 

Meanwhile, El Camino College has been looking into multiple different methods to facilitate enrollment, including their announcement of offering tuition-free classes for select students during the summer and fall 2022 semesters. 

Another great solution to facilitate enrollment would be rescinding the vaccine requirement, as it would allow students who decided against the vaccine to have the option to return to campus. 

Multiple surrounding community colleges, such as Santa Monica and Riverside Community College, have rescinded their vaccination requirements before the fall semester began in a likely effort to help get more students back onto campus. 

The Union interviewed several students, staff and faculty to get their thoughts on El Camino’s current vaccine requirement policy and received mixed results overall. 

 Juliette Tafolla, 18, is a dance major who feels that having vaccinations as a requirement helps to keep campus environments safer for everyone. Tafolla said that COVID-19 infection could rise if the campus removes its vaccine requirement on campus.

Alternatively, Sean Masi, 20, a Business major and Fire and Emergency Technology Associate said that El Camino College should rescind the vaccine mandate because he believes that the choice should be left to each individual and everyone deserves a right to an education.

Currently, there is not much of an urgency to keep people safe now that vaccines are easily accessible and the spread of COVID-19 has slowed down significantly. 

On October 17, The Board of Trustees will make a decision to lift or continue El Camino’s vaccine mandate. 

The majority of students currently attending El Camino College are making the choice to do so, and while vaccination requirements made sense in getting students back onto campus as safe as possible for the past few semesters, the current state of the pandemic has changed. 

Students, faculty and staff deserve to have the freedom to choose whether or not to get vaccinated, just as they have the freedom to make El Camino College their home.