In response to LRU’s blatant disregard for the freedom of its students to make informed, confidential healthcare decisions, I challenge all alumni to consider withholding financial support to LRU until the institution recognizes that “my body, my choice” should extend beyond a platitude for reproductive rights. The fact that the university is mandating a medical procedure that is not fully FDA approved for a virus that has a high survival rate for the vast majority of people is short-sighted, at best. Widely-available data supports that COVID-19 is greatly diminished in community circulation.
Through the whole pandemic, in a county with 159,551 people, there have been only 19,904 cases and 311 deaths recorded for COVID-19 — thus, only 12.47% of the Catawba County population had a confirmed case of the virus, and of those cases 1.6% died. Though each loss is tragic, this represents not even 2% of the case total. To survive, viruses usually mutate to be more communicable, yet less deadly to promote viral reproduction in a host, yet we are constantly bombarded with fears of variants.
If COVID-19 follows the trajectory of the SARS-1 virus, it will ultimately die out. What a shame if students and staff are forced to take a vaccine with questionable long-term impact for a virus that might be gone in just a few years. OSHA has already stated that vaccine mandates hold employers liable for adverse vaccine reactions as work-related injuries. Is LRU willing to step up to the plate for that type of liability? Are HIPAA laws being violated by asking for proof of a COVID vaccine? Would there be a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? How would mandates be enforced? How could any religious or medical exemptions be denied? Who are the arbiters of determining the validity of a legitimate religious conviction? So many questions, so few answers.
Regardless of where people stand personally on vaccines, we should all be able to agree that each person has the right to decide for himself or herself. Any school or workplace that interjects into that decision-making process risks legal, financial or public relations challenges down the road. Who can measure the impact of a disenfranchised pipeline of potential students that will now look at other options, or alumni with a long tradition of giving who will send their charitable dollars elsewhere in protest? LRU might just get what it deserves.
H. B. Hyde