Eligible College Students Should Get Vaccinated


As New York continues to expand its eligibility rules, many Fordham students are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Students working with Fordham University EMS have been eligible for months; more recently, Ram Van employees became able to receive the vaccine. In an email last week, Marco Valera, vice president for administration, announced that all university staff working on campus are now eligible, expanding the vaccine’s availability to other on-campus student workers. Other students are eligible due to health conditions that New York state lists as risk factors. 

College students who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine face scrutiny. We are young, we look healthy and we are, statistically speaking, very unlikely to die if we contract the virus. We face questions from members of older generations: Why are you eligible? What did you have to say to get into this line? Why do you deserve this vaccine more than they do?

However, we owe no such explanations to older relatives, friends and strangers — in fact, we owe explanations to no one. College students should not be questioned for their eligibility, and in turn, students should not question the eligibility of others. 

If the CDC and your state government have decided that you are eligible, then you are eligible. Your eligibility, whether it comes from concern for your employment or your health, is as valid as anyone else’s. Nothing makes you more deserving of a COVID-19 vaccine than any other eligible person, and the idea that we must “deserve” a lifesaving vaccine is a dangerous fiction.

Questioning someone’s eligibility is an act of subversion. Eligibility often relates to medical conditions, which can be personal, sensitive information. We have no obligation to divulge our medical history to anyone, especially not a nosy stranger. Moreover, we have no right to question the eligibility of others. It is beyond inappropriate to call other students out when we have no way to know what risk factors they deal with.

It’s also important that we do not question our own eligibility. With vaccine shortages across the country, it’s only natural to want to reserve vaccines for the people who need them most. We empathize with the desire to save your vaccine doses for someone less fortunate, but we need to keep the larger context of the COVID-19 vaccine in mind. 

Herd immunity through vaccination is the most important step Americans can take against the coronavirus. Officials have suggested 70% to 90% as a target for herd immunity; currently, about 22% of the U.S. population has been at least partially vaccinated. If you are eligible for the vaccine, you have the opportunity to raise that number. 

Further, it’s essential to keep in mind that COVID-19 vaccines come with an expiration date. If vaccine doses are not used by their deadlines, vaccination sites will automatically discard them. If everyone foregoes a vaccine in an attempt to prioritize others, there’s a decent chance that the doses will go to waste. We implore you not to neglect your health for the sake of others — take advantage of New York’s vaccine rollout if you are eligible to do so.

We at The Fordham Ram encourage you to check your eligibility and make an appointment to get vaccinated if you are able. Fordham University is approved as a vaccination site and is awaiting its first doses; other locations in the Bronx, such as Yankee Stadium, may have better availability right now. We hope that you continue to take steps to protect yourself and others as we finally enter the end stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.