Home Breaking News Cuesta College’s vaccine mandate & the rise of misinformation

Cuesta College’s vaccine mandate & the rise of misinformation

Cuesta College students wearing their masks on campus. Photo by Jennaca Ortiz

On October 15, Cuesta College instated its vaccine mandate for all on-campus activities. 

The mandate comes as COVID cases in San Luis Obispo continue to rise.

This means that in order to attend class in person or use facilities at Cuesta, you must provide proof of vaccination or provide a negative COVID test. 

While many other colleges have already been operating under vaccine mandates, many smaller colleges had the flexibility to instate requirements later in the year. 

I believe that Cuesta’s decision to enforce a vaccine and mask requirement is very reasonable. The more vaccinated students there are, the safer the campus is. The decision to implement mask and vaccine requirements is critical as COVID-19 cases continue to spike in San Luis Obispo and across the country. 

All of the Cuesta students that I spoke to have no issue complying with the mandate. However, I know others do not feel this way.

You can find people all over the internet claiming that mandates like these are violations of the constitution or even human rights. 

With bold claims like these, I wanted to know more. 

I did some research to see how prevalent ideas like these were in our own community. 

I was unpleasantly surprised to learn that many SLO parents decided to pull their children out of school on Monday, Oct. 18, as part of the statewide vaccine walkout. Hundreds of SLO County children from kindergarten to high school were reported absent in protest of vaccine and mask mandates. Parents were seen lining streets holding signs such as, “The Pharmacartel doesn’t care about our children,” and “My child, my choice.”

While many of the signs I’ve seen could be considered comical, I believe this brings up a genuine concern about misinformation and how quickly it spreads. 

In October I attended an anti-vaccine rally in my hometown and spoke to one of the organizers. She asked to remain anonymous.

The main thing I wanted to know is why she believed that mask and vaccine mandates are such a big deal in the first place. 

“Well first I believe it’s unconstitutional,” Sarah said. “You can’t force anyone to do anything. This is about government control. The vaccine is experimental and I think the government is hiding something. It’s obvious.”

Sarah also shared with me some Facebook groups, conservative news websites, and a pocket handbook of the constitution. 

Although confused, I felt oddly sympathetic towards all the people I spoke to there. Not because I agree with them, but I feel bad that they became victims of false information. 

The things I’ve read on private Facebook groups, heard in school board meetings and read in online articles made me incredibly disappointed. I don’t believe that we as a country will ever agree on anything, but with this worsening polarization, it’s critical to focus on the facts. 

I encourage you to thoroughly evaluate every source of information to ensure what you’re reading is factual. If you see a friend or a family member spouting things on social media that are dangerous and clearly untrue, reach out to them and let them know that what they’ve said could have a lasting impact. 

Overall, do I believe that the vaccine is a government cover-up for a deadly bioweapon? Not at all. I do understand why so many people in the U.S. can fall victim to dangerous misinformation. 

I understand their distrust in government. The U.S. has had a less-than-perfect track record of keeping promises. It is totally reasonable for citizens to lose trust in our politicians and each other. 

Although I understand the concerns on both sides, I believe that this is an issue of public health, not government control. If this issue had not become heavily politicized, I don’t believe we’d be in this position.

So please get vaccinated. If not for yourself, for all of the ones you care about.