OPINION: Booster shot should be optional, not mandated

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By John Michael Guerrero

The booster should be optional rather than enforced and made mandatory.

The RCCD Board of Trustees voted to pass a booster mandate for the 2022 Spring term Jan. 18. All eligible faculty and students will now be required to receive a booster shot for either Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson by Feb. 1 to be eligible for in-person and hybrid courses.

The district is overstepping its ethical boundaries by forcing many students to get the booster. Many students hold a similar belief.

Of the 34 students I surveyed on campus throughout the week, 13 students supported the mandate while five students were hesitant and 14 students were against the enactment of the mandate by the Board.

Through interviews I conducted around Riverside City College, I found that 41% of students attending on-campus classes for the winter session said they are against the Booster Mandate.

For instance, several students have expressed they would rather not be forced to take the Pfizer or Moderna booster shots, not because they are opposed to vaccines or protecting others, but because they are concerned about personal freedoms, access to the proper medical resources and their own well-being.

“(The COVID vaccine) keeps us safe, but it’s also unfair for (RCCD) to force students to get (the booster shot), it should be a choice,” Liza Rodriguez, an undeclared major, said.

Many of the students who hold extreme or undecided thoughts about the booster mandate share similar sentiments to Rodriguez.

The requirement of the booster being a prerequisite to attend in-person classes is an extreme step in reopening the college campus after a whole year of lockdowns. While personal safety should be prioritized above all else, the COVID vaccine should be the only main requirement to participate in hybrid and fully on-campus classes, not the booster shot. 

As a college student who attended the fall 2021 term with both doses of the vaccine, wearing a mask and practicing COVID safety guidelines, I was able to safely begin my college education. Although this does not completely protect from COVID and its variants, keep in mind that many who are taking the risk of continuing their education in a face-to-face format while fully vaccinated should be enough.

The only case in which RCCD should open the floor for the booster shot is if it was decided to completely open up all campuses to all students, faculty and staff.

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