The recent glut of vaccines and the announcement that approval for ages 12 and up has changed the educational landscape.  In addition the expected approval of vaccines for ages 6 months to 12 this summer means that most of our students will have the opportunity to be vaccinated (at least once) this summer.  Suddenly, school next year looks very different.

Holding up this new reality are the vaccine hesitant.  I don’t debate the ardently vaccine hesitant.  Instead I point to Pope Francis.  He was vaccinated and has encouraged us to get vaccinated.  If you reject his advice, holding your opinion as more valuable than the Pope’s, you’re going down a very dangerous path.  I would instead offer an analogy to those on the fence.

I recall my father’s resistance to seat belt laws.  “Why can’t the government just leave me alone?” he would ask.  He had grown up without seat belts, driving tractors and taking responsibility for his own safety. His argument was based on personal freedom.  Others would argue about government overreach and some would even say they would be safer without seat belts.  Yes, that was a thing.

The winning argument was that car crashes without seat belts were costly to lives and to resources.  In this case, it was the government’s role to legislate safe behavior and not allow people like my Dad to exercise one of their personal freedoms.

What if we treated COVID vaccinations like seat belts? Stop worrying about offending people’s convictions about these vaccines. We all need to get vaccinated to protect one another.  The common good supersedes individual freedoms. If we are able to get our students vaccinated, we’ll reduce the anxiety in our school communities and return to the type of education we all enjoy.

Perhaps we should all step up and encourage each other to vaccinate.  For each other.

This post originally appeared in the May 10th Catholic School Matters newsletter