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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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A&M health officials react to federal vaccine block

The+federal+vaccine+mandate+has+been+overturned+by+the+Supreme+Court.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

The federal vaccine mandate has been overturned by the Supreme Court.

After a federal push to get the country vaccinated, President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate has been blocked.
On Jan. 21, a federal court in Texas put a pause on the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for more than 2 million government employees and private sector workers, announced in September and November of last year. The halt led by Southern District of Texas Judge Jeffery Brown, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said the case was for reasons beyond the importance of the vaccine, according to an article from Government Executive
“It is instead about whether the president can, with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress, require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment,” Brown said in the article. “That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far.” 
Since Biden’s orders began in September, many agencies have already begun to comply with the requirements, though in the past weeks, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to have private sector employers require vaccines for employment. 
The White House said since Biden’s inauguration, the number of adults vaccinated with at least one dose went from 34% to 78%, in an Oct. 7 press release. Not only has the vaccine helped to increase the number of Americans vaccinated, Biden said it will also help with the economy.
“During the recent spread of the delta variant, cases, hospitalizations and deaths were roughly 2 ½  times higher in states with low vaccination rates compared to high-vaccination states,” the report reads. “Small business employee hours grew faster and stayed higher during the rise of the delta variant in the states that have higher working-age vaccination rates, versus states with lower vaccination rates.”
Following the ruling, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration filed an appeal to the court and said the numbers were showing 98% compliance with the mandate in the federal workforce. 
Compliance with the mandate is of utmost importance to research institutions such as Texas A&M, Student Health Services director Dr. Martha Dannenbaum said in an email to The Battalion. Without individuals getting vaccinated, there is less data for studying, which could potentially affect how much funding is allotted. 
“Federal funding sources provide a significant portion of the research and other funding to researchers, colleges and agencies across the campus,” Dannenbaum said. “These funds are covering many of the educational opportunities for our students as well, including salaries for certain individuals and access to research programs that are important to individual students’ academic success.”
With the increasing number of virus strains, Dannenbaum said vaccinations are essential to help lower the chances of future mutations.
“Viruses are continuously mutating or changing their genetic characteristics; the more opportunities to infect additional people or hosts, the more likely new variants will occur,” Dannenbaum said. “Some of these variants could produce more severe disease and with each mutation, the effectiveness of vaccines and therapeutics could change such that they are less effective in preventing spread of the virus and serious illness.”
Not only do vaccinations limit the chance of the spread, but also it helps to reduce the number of hospitalizations and severe cases of the disease, which leads to less stress on those in the medical profession, Dannenbaum said.
“Our hospital resources are currently strained, as frequently occurs in the winter months, due to a combination of several factors including healthcare workers, who are mostly vaccinated, testing positive for COVID[-19] and unable to work, individuals requiring hospital care for COVID[-19], mostly unvaccinated, severe influenza cases and all of the other things that require hospital care [including] emergent and elective surgeries, strokes, heart attacks, serious accidents,” Dannenbaum said.”
For individuals who are worried or unsure about the vaccine, Dannenbaum said she suggests discussing these fears with their primary care team.
Though it is not sure if and when there will be a mandate, Dannenbaum said if there were to be a vaccine mandate in the future, A&M is ready to adapt to those needs.
“A&M has in place the needed mechanisms to effectively manage a federal vaccine mandate should it be upheld at a future date,” Dannenbaum said. 

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