Back to school: who should be vaccinated?
For schoolchildren in some countries another school year overshadowed by Covid is starting. European societies are arguing about how to best protect themselves from a new wave of the pandemic. Compulsory vaccination for teachers and vaccines for teenagers are among the measures under discussion. One thing all commentators agree on is that children should not have to pay for the freedom of adults.
Education before leisure
A fourth wave of the virus must not stand in the way of face-to-face teaching in the new school year, Lapin Kansa demands:
“The threshold for reverting to distance learning seems to be high, and that's a good thing. Coronavirus infections have spread because of public events and the opening of nightclubs and restaurants. ... It remains to be seen how big of a tsunami the fourth wave will be and what impact it will have on society. But it would still be completely unfair to make pupils pay for the adults' leisure activities. So any restrictions should under no circumstances affect school lessons.”
Anti-vaxxers should not be teaching in schools
Der Kurier says teachers who refuse to be vaccinated are not fit for the job:
“Of course it makes a difference whether you're a municipal employee cutting trees in the forest or a primary school teacher working for hours in a room with children who can't be vaccinated but at the same time have a serious risk of catching nasty things like 'long Covid'. ... Perhaps making vaccination compulsory for teachers would also answer the question of basic suitability for the job. For anyone who's unwilling to make a distinction between serious scientists and their statements and pompous conspiracy theorists is quite out of place in a public educational institution where the value of knowledge and science are taught.”
The young need normality
Portugal's health authority has rejected the idea of vaccinating under-16s. Paediatricians Luís Varandas and João Farela Neves criticise the decision in Expresso:
“This means that the virus will continue to circulate with the risk of infection for those who haven't been vaccinated or for those in whom the vaccine is not so effective. This raises the possibility of new variants emerging and the goal of herd immunity being compromised. ... Only those who did not witness how psychological/psychiatric problems among children exploded during the pandemic can underestimate the importance of allowing our young people to grow up as 'normally' as possible. Growing up with sports, dinners at restaurants and visits from friends.”
Listening is key
For society to overcome the rifts on the subject of compulsory vaccination, the different camps must take each other seriously and work on a joint solution, La Tribune de Genève urges:
“Looking at social networks, one wonders if we haven't forgotten that our personality isn't limited to the question of whether we're for or against vaccination. We also have families, friends, hobbies, jobs. ... If we spend too much time looking for culprits, we forget that a solution must be found. To do this, it's essential that we respect the suffering, fears, doubts and anger of people on both sides. In short, we must act collectively.”