Posted on: September 24, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By The Glacier Editorial Board

Personal freedom and public safety are in a constant battle when it comes to the coronavirus. Some people see vaccines and masks as a violation of freedom, while others say they are sacrificing their own freedom to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Maintaining civil liberties and protecting the public can be a zero-sum game and difficult to balance,” said Kevin Navratil, political science professor and Democracy Commitment coordinator at Moraine Valley.

As we soon head into our second year into the coronavirus pandemic, not much has changed. We are still seeing record numbers of cases in certain parts of the country.

“What we see today,” says political science professor Deron Schreck, “is that both sides are very, very entrenched in what they believe.”

But to move forward as a country, those who oppose the mandate must recognize that their “freedom” is threatening the true freedom of the vaccinated public – freedom to visit family and friends, freedom to go to work or school, freedom from fear of contamination whenever they leave their home.

We need to consider what extreme harm personal freedom can cause the public. We are working backwards as a nation. We are becoming a threat to ourselves.”

Understandably, emotions are running high and people are exhausted by what they have been through since March 2020. But we cannot allow anger at the lockdown, distrust of the government, misinformation and conspiracy theories to get in the way of public health and doing what is right for our community.

The problem has gone as far as the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, issuing an executive order banning any state or local mandates that require people to be vaccinated against COVID-19. He called on Texas legislators to vote it into the law during their current session, according to NPR.  

These actions will have drastic negative effects for people not only in his state, but throughout the entire country. We need to consider what extreme harm personal freedom can cause the public, especially people who are immunocompromised. We are working backwards as a nation. We are becoming a threat to ourselves. 

Fortunately, in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Prizker issued a mandate requiring “all individuals over the age of 2 and who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear a face covering when in indoor public places.” The mandate also requires “health care workers, school personnel, higher education personnel and students, and employees and contractors of state-owned or operated congregate facilities to be fully vaccinated.”

Vaccines are scientifically developed and tested for our safety. They are effective in treating the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Pandemics in the past, such as poliovirus, ended thanks to vaccines. Had people been anti-vaccine during that time, we might still be trying to fight polio today. For centuries, vaccines have cured and prevented illnesses that we still would be battling today if it weren’t for science and prevention. The same goes for this pandemic. To move forward and live a life we once knew, one without fear of contagion, we must sacrifice our personal freedom for the sake of public health.

At Moraine Valley, less than half of the students had reported as vaccinated as of Sept. 12, according to Dennis Sage, director of Infrastructure and Network Services.

This is not enough. We must do better.

To win this fight against the pandemic, we need to act logically. Being against medicine and science is not only damaging, but with increasing time will cause the spread of illnesses and birth of new ones to occur more easily.

Think about families who are doing everything they can to protect their loved ones from COVID-19. It’s time to base our actions on what’s best for everyone, not just ourselves. We play a part in our community.

Wear a mask, get vaccinated, and let us all get closer to a post-pandemic world. Do your part.

The editorial board is composed of editor-in-chief Deana Elhit and the section editors of The Glacier.