Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

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This story was originally published by the Newsmakers with Jerry Roberts and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.

By Kate Ford and Laura Capps

As members of the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) board, we understand that our paramount responsibility is to ensure the health and well-being of our students. Incorporating all we’ve learned about Covid-19, we are determined to open schools safely for all staff and students on August 17. Sadly, our community is still in a health emergency that requires us to further safeguard students and staff against the risks of infection, illness, hospitalization, and death from the virus.

It is now our responsibility to ensure that we do all that we can to prevent Covid-19 in our schools, while keeping our classroom doors open and providing an environment where all children can thrive – especially the most vulnerable - and our staff can be protected from disease. Our students, teachers and staff deserve healthy and safe schools.

Since January of last year, at least 1 in 12 people who live in Santa Barbara County have been infected, and at least 1 in 952 people have died. As elected officials, we must do our part to do whatever we can to put a halt to these disturbing numbers.

As history demonstrates, we know we can do it. Polio was once the most feared disease in the U.S., causing 15,000 cases of paralysis and disabling 35,000 people each year. In 1979, polio was eradicated, not by herd immunity, but by a successful vaccination mandate.

Alarming numbers

We are alarmed at the high percentage of unvaccinated people in our county, despite the efforts of so many. Given that the new Delta variant is highly transmissible to adults and children, we are grateful that the vaccines are extremely effective and safe and will receive full authorization from the FDA soon.

The SBUSD staff has worked hard with County Public Health, Cottage, Sansum and the Neighborhood Clinics to provide students and staff access to vaccinations. And nearly 65% of SBUSD teachers and staff have told us they are vaccinated, confirmed either by self-reporting or by confidentially showing proof of vaccination card to our nurses.

But that percentage is far from where we should be – especially for staff members who are interacting with young children who can’t yet be vaccinated. Full vaccination provides the safety our schools need.

As board members, we took an oath to do everything possible to protect SBUSD students and school staff.

Therefore, we are advocating for a requirement for all employees of Santa Barbara Unified to be fully vaccinated and/or tested at least every week for Covid-19. Implementing this policy will likely save lives.

A special meeting

The SBUSD school board will hold a special meeting at 2 p,m. on Thursday, August 5, to act on this new vaccine requirement to take effect immediately. We look forward to continuing our partnership with our city and county leaders as we take this critical next step.

Our kids have lost too much already; we owe it to them and our school staff to beat back this pandemic once and for all.

SB School Board President Kate Ford, was elected in 2018. Immediate past president Laura Capps joined the board in 2017.

(The agenda for the special August 5 board meeting is on the SBUSD web site here).

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bosco Aug 04, 2021 10:37 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

I commend Ms. Ford and Ms. Capps in this statement. This approach and opinions here by the board members is exactly what we need going forward and much different from what we had last year. Finally, science, logic, and a clear understanding of risk is being communicated.

Personally, I wouldn't want my kids taught by someone that doesn't believe in vaccination. It puts into question their reasoning and cognitive ability as educators. While I don't support blanket government vaccine mandates, industry specific mandates made by employers is a good way to go.

The only thing I ask, is don't punish students that are unable to get vaccinated due to eligibility. Regardless of how the Pandemic plays out, keeping kids in school is a priority. My kids are too young for the vaccine but will be first in line as soon as they are eligible. Schools have been mandating vaccines for many years now, this is no different.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 11:00 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Considering the source of this op-ed, let's hope this isn't a step towards closing schools for kids under 12 as they disastrously did for over 12 months. Sure mandate the vaccine, but remember that all evidence pointed to the absolute disaster being caused by your school closures last year.

ginger1 Aug 04, 2021 11:07 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Well said, BOSCO.

I DO support "blanket government vaccine mandates" in certain specific cases, like when we eradicated polio, smallpox, controlling measles and chickenpox which has prevented needless disability, pain, suffering and death, and now what we must do to stop covid. But not mindlessly and with compassion.

What we've done to our children (not to mention their parents and grandparents) the last nearly two years is reprehensible .

Chip of SB Aug 04, 2021 11:19 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Polio provides a great example of just how effective vaccines can be. The polio virus has been eradicated from most of the world, though it still persists in a few countries. The reason polio vaccines have been so successful is they prevent transmission of the disease. Unfortunately, covid is very different from polio, and covid vaccines are very different from polio vaccines. When they were first introduced, covid vaccines appeared to be somewhat effective in reducing covid transmission. However, this is no longer the case with the development of the delta variant. Those who are vaccinated for covid can still be infected and transmit the virus. The vaccines may still be effective in preventing severe cases, but as long as transmission continues new mutations will develop and there is no chance of eradicating the virus. In addition, the cdc director has warned that additional mutations may render our existing vaccines ineffective at preventing severe cases. While vaccination may help reduce the impact of covid, it is important to understand that our existing vaccines cannot eradicate covid and may not prove to be effective in the long term. https://news.yahoo.com/cdc-coronavirus-could-just-few-195538150.html

bosco Aug 04, 2021 11:55 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Exactly why we have to accept that COVID will become endemic. This means get your annual flue shot and your annual COVID shot. We can't keep living with shutdowns and mask mandates we have to move to a long term sustainable situation where we live with a manageable COVID risk. The vaccine (as of now at least) reduces the risk to a reasonable level. Even in breakthrough cases, viral loads are lower which means risk for mutation is less (even if not zero). Stop trying to make vaccines sound like their not effective when they clearly are. We may not have a silver bullet COVID killer but we have a damn good tool to deal with this. None of this is new information, or surprising, and your comments highlighting well known deficiencies are not helping here.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 11:56 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Option 4) Understand that this a "forever" thing and act accordingly (instead of panicking and mandating things that accomplish very little and burden all of society).

GeneralTree Aug 04, 2021 12:02 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

It is quite possible to eradicate the Covid virus - however we have people who believe they are smarter than the scientists and researchers - and those easily reprogrammed by disinformation. Many expersts say so. But if the vaccination rate doesn't increase significantly - yes, it won't be eradicated and be endemic.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 12:02 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Bosco - You have to accept it will become endemic because that is what all scientific evidence points to...and is the consensus among immunologists. So, yes get vaccinated...but understand that those commenting and thinking that we can eradicate Covid in the near future also aren't helping as it's not going to happen.

Chip of SB Aug 04, 2021 12:08 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Sac, I think we should decide what to do with the understanding that covid is almost certain to remain with in for the foreseeable future. Therefore I think lockdowns are untenable and should be ruled out as an option. Mandating the existing vaccines might help reduce the harm caused by the virus, but the vaccines are likely to be rendered ineffective in the future by new mutations. A vaccine mandate would not be a one time deal, but rather an ongoing campaign that would require being vaccinated on a regular basis to keep up with virus mutations, which I believe is also untenable. As for masks, I just don’t think they will be able to make enough of a difference to justify mandating them on a permanent basis. I think the most viable long term solution is developing more effective ways of treating covid to reduce its severity. Since we can’t eradicate Covid, we need to learn to live with it.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 12:37 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Which honestly may be a better option than Option 5) do anything/everything that possibly comes to mind regardless of point, value, benefit, effects, cost, purpose, etc...

ginger1 Aug 04, 2021 01:00 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Just three comments:
1. It is not correct to state that the current vaccines do not reduce the spread of the virus.
2. Viruses mutate continually. There are not enough letters in the Greek alphabet. They can mutate to be more infective or less infective, but it doesn't matter as far as the vaccine. It will take the biotech people a day or so to reprogram and a week to start pumping out millions of doses of the updated vaccine, which might be needed for some people at risk for severe disease, and slow the spread of that one.
3. You are correct that eradication is not a likely end point, but converting COVID-19 to like a seasonal cold or flu without serious illness or death is absolutely in the cards. Although as infectivity increases, it is possible that global herd immunity may occur and then it's indeed gone. But lots of people have to get very sick and die for that to happen and the vaccine prevents that. But one way or the other, covid will be contained. I'd prefer to see that with (less) pain, suffering and disruption to society.

Based on the influenza model, with a history of three global pandemics and annual localized epidemics, eradication may not happen. But who knows? That was before mRNA vaccines. As more effective influenza vaccines using mRNA are developed to deal with the seasonal strains/variants, we will reduce the impact of influenza as well as covid.

Don't forget that influenza kills tens of thousands of us every year and a lot of people end up very sick for a week or two. We can now fix that, too. And perhaps HIV, HPV and cervical cancer, some lung cancers, etc, etc. mRNA vaccines are a friggin' miracle. Run, do not walk to get the shot.

SBTownie Aug 04, 2021 12:19 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

I absolutely support these requirements. If you don't want to vaccinate your children, you can homeschool them.

SBTownie Aug 04, 2021 12:21 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Another thought: none of this can be self reported. It needs to be verified by medical professionals. I agree the government should not mandate anyone to get vaccines. But we should make using public services difficult for those who refuse without a true medical reason (of which there would be very few).

CoastWatch Aug 04, 2021 12:21 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

How many kids (under 18) have died due to COVID in the State of CA that did not have a serious pre-existing condition....?

CoastWatch Aug 04, 2021 12:55 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

SACJON- People of all ages die everyday. Should the entire State and Nation sacrifice jobs, businesses and active schooling with normalcy for 3 (?) children who died of COVID? What about the dozens of children who are killed /injuried due to child abuse daily? What about the 100's of children who die of backyard pool drownings each year...? It's called "Life". Part of our lives is death as well...

sacjon Aug 04, 2021 02:07 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

COAST - provide evidence that only 3 kids died from Covid. You know you're lying.

As for the rest of your drivel.... Are schools closed? No, so stop it. Do we spend millions on preventing child abuse and keeping kids safe from abusive adults? Yes, so stop it. Do we make an effort to avoid kids drowning? Yes, so stop it. Just stop man. You're "examples" all refute your argument. We don't just throw our hands up and say "oh, that's life!"

What freaking world do you live in where you make no effort to keep kids safe?

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 02:20 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Sac - I think that you will keep saying that what the county/school board/etc is mandating is perfectly fine right up until they close schools again...at which point you will be right there with us complaining again. It seems prudent to try and stop that a step or two before they make that move instead of cheering on their every move till they pull the plug again....

a-1628116421 Aug 04, 2021 03:33 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

It's truly bizarre how many times we have to explain STDs, I mean COVID. When you sleep with (have unmasked contact) one person, you sleep with (have unmasked contact) everyone that person has slept with (had unmasked contact with). It is not just about the kids - they are a vector

GeneralTree Aug 04, 2021 12:25 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

School will be a mess this year with no vaccine for the youngest students and not all of the 12-18 year olds being vaccinated. Mandate the vaccine just like the other vaccination requirements when you register your child for school. Don't want to vaccinate, then that's fine, don't come to school.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 12:28 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Except, school wasn't a mess for schools that actually stayed open last year when COVID was raging exponentially worse. The mess was closing schools because of panic and paranoia.

letmego Aug 04, 2021 02:41 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

DUKE, Delta is much more contagious than the original variant. There is a potential to be a huge mess. However, what the district is proposing is requiring vaccination (I read the proposal on SBUified website) AND/OR weekly testing for all teachers and staff, and periodic testing for unvaccinated students.

Masks, ventilation, regular testing...I'm comfortable with that for my unvaccinated child.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 02:51 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Letmego - As long as they don’t use any of this as a springboard to shut down schools… as that was an unmitigated disaster last year. With the vaccine (and Covid not really effecting kids) the priority has to be on keeping schools open. Considering what these school board members did last year, these proposals seem like they are inching towards shutting it down again…

GeneralTree Aug 04, 2021 02:52 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Duke, you aren't stating reality. the Delta Variant can spread much more easily among kids. Keeping schools open is of utmost priority and all the more reason for a vaccine mandate.

Easily found on Google that some of the worst affected areas are seeing infants, children and teans with Covid pouring back into the hospital. Florida has an uptick of pediatric cases and school hasn't started yet.

sacjon Aug 04, 2021 02:58 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

GT - but wait...... DUKE and VOICE have been assuring us all for months that the safest and most effective covid limitations are happening in Florida and Texas! What? There must be some mistake! ;)

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 03:07 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

I’ve stated I’m in support of a vaccine mandate, as it would actually accomplish something (unlike The mask mandate).

a-1628115389 Aug 04, 2021 03:16 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Yes, FLA is exceeding us in cases in all age categories, handily winning that race to the bottom. When their healthcare system collapses. deaths will take off, too.

sacjon Aug 04, 2021 03:20 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

DUKE - problem with the vax mandate is how to enforce it. Too many forgeries and fake vax cards. The mask mandate isn't completely useless and easy to enforce. Let's take what we can get.

bosco Aug 04, 2021 04:12 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

The data showed that lockdowns and mask mandates may have flattened the curve slightly but generally did very little in overall protection when comparing CA to FL & TX. However, that was pre vaccine. Now post vaccine, it's clear that FL, TX, and other antivax States are suffering from their ignorant attitudes around vaccination.

letmego Aug 05, 2021 09:03 AM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

From the 4 or 5 school board meetings I attended last year, I doubt it. It became very clear to the board that remote school was a disaster, and as the school year went later and later, the urgency to open schools went up a lot (among the school board members). I highly doubt they are moving towards closing schools again.

Andrea Smith Aug 04, 2021 12:48 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

I do not believe those saying Covid cannot be eradicated or at least significantly reduced are correct. What happened here is, Delta developed in a largely unvaccinated area - India - where hardly anyone is vaccinated and on top of it the PM lifted mandates and everyone got together in an already very crowded/overpopulated country for celebrations and the like. Up popped the variant. It eventually made its way here as was expected, right when we did not have enough vaccinated in the population [i.e. at least 70%] and right when they said the vaccinated can no longer wear masks [which led to the unvaccinated also shedding masks]. A perfect storm. Now, if Delta arrived here when we had at least 70% vaccination rate and people who were not vaccinated were responsible members of society and wore masks as asked, we'd be seeing a much different picture.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 12:54 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Andrea - And (virtually) all scientists and immunologists would disagree with you (about eradication). You are right that vaccines are invaluable and will help control it to a degree, but Covid isn’t going away. It’s amazing how few people seem to understand that, though it does make many of the comments and actions of people make more sense. Again, GET VACCINATED! But also understand and realise the forever nature of this…

Andrea Smith Aug 04, 2021 02:05 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

DUKE MUNSON no virus goes away once they are here, including the Spanish Flu which is still in circulation. My point of using the term eradicated is that with vaccination, etc. it will not only loose its deadliness but it will be in such low circulation so as not to pose much of a threat over time, just like the Spanish Flu. Now polio and measles are still very contagious and potent but, persons not vaccinated for those still face VERY LOW risk so essentially these are eradicated for the most part with a few minor exceptions. Many people no longer vaccinate here for polio or measles and when is the last time you heard of anyone coming down with polio or measles? Not often at all.

dukemunson Aug 04, 2021 02:15 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Andrea - I think you are misjudging (and minimizing) the long term situation of COVID. The scientific consensus is seemingly that it is here to stay in a much more meaningful and tangible capacity. Which means we need to be prudent and get vaccinated, but also not give up on life and any/all freedoms at "quick fixes" that aren't going to work and just wreck havoc with their unintended consequences.

Zenyatta19 Aug 04, 2021 06:13 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Andrea- I’m pretty sure kids are still vaccinated for measles. Isn’t that the MMR, Measles Mumps and Rubella? There was an outbreak a few years ago at Disneyland and I remember UCSB had some cases as well.

Ahchooo Aug 04, 2021 06:35 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

There was a measles outbreak in Philadelphia among some religious sects in 1991, and eventually the state got permission to vaccinate the children against the parents’ wishes. Measles is no joke.

a-1628134869 Aug 04, 2021 08:41 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

Andrea @ 2:05:
And the measles outbreaks among the unvaccinated prove your point!
(We heard of measles very often very recently. [It's "lose" as in lose your keys; "loose" as in loose-jointed.])

oops Aug 04, 2021 12:50 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

As school board members they should be ashamed of what they have done to our young kids for the sole benefit of the teacher union. Science has never been part of their decision making, what makes you think it is today.

ginger1 Aug 04, 2021 01:54 PM
Op-Ed: It's Time to Require Vaccines

COASTWATCH: "Should the entire State and Nation sacrifice jobs, businesses and active schooling with normalcy for 3 (?) children who died of COVID?"

First, it's not 3 and the number doesn't matter. The answer is YES.

ANDREA: India. Point of fact. No longer in the news and that's telling. Their "delta surge" lasted about 55 days during which time 4-6 thousand people PER DAY died. The total for that "wave" might be over a million people. Two months later, that daily rate is "only" 300. There are numerous communities that had extraordinary number of cases ans deaths and now have none. Herd immunity.

But at what cost? I surely hope we do not see that here in Florida, Texas. Louisiana, Missouri...........


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