Vaccines.

They seem to be the world’s main point of conversation. When the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was approved by FDA on Aug. 23, opinions on vaccine mandates rose in volume all over social media to voice either their concern or their advocacy.

As we live in an increasingly polarized society, science and vaccines are have entered the political battleground. Conservatives' claims against COVID-19 and vaccinations turned an extremely infectious illness into a topic up for debate.

According to an NPR report, 17 out of 18 states with the lowest vaccination rates voted for President Donald Trump. Although notable right-wing senators like Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, endorse vaccines, as of Aug. 2 the percentage of Americans with at least one vaccine shot is still only 58.1%, per the CDC.

The Pfizer vaccine, which will now be marketed under the trade name, Comirnaty (koe-mir’-na-tee), is now FDA approved for individuals 16 years or older.

But what does this mean for mandated vaccines? We can’t be sure, but based on recent news we could be headed in that direction.

Republican-nominated Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, who was the sole Justice to hear the 7th Circuit Court hearing, recently refused to block Indiana University’s vaccine mandate. This was a shock amongst her Republican audience and a vote that shows hope

for how the court will handle potential state mandate situations.

As in accordance with the religious freedom granted in the First Amendment, established religious exemptions of vaccines are respected. We see that reflected in GU’s vaccine mandate.

Since the FDA’s decision organizations like the Pentagon, CVS, the State University of New York system and the New York City school system, among others have established vaccine mandates. According to the "New York Times," the defense secretary recently announced that all active-duty troops will be required to be vaccinated, saying they will send out specific vaccination guidelines to the 1.4 million service members soon.

More universities are placing the COVID-19 vaccine on their mandatory immunization list, like the University of Minnesota and the State University of New York systems. While college students are not the most at-risk of contracting the virus, these are big steps in vaccinating the population to hopefully prevent more variations from developing.

Medical practitioners are losing patience with those who are unvaccinated, as they are about 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those
who are fully vaccinated, according to a CDC study released on Aug. 24. After almost a year and a half of this pandemic, I’m surprised more essential workers haven’t quit.

Doctors and nurses are losing hope. Social media
is rampant with text posts describing doctors’ requests for those who are eligible to get vaccinated. Posts from people who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 because they thought they were healthy or had already had it suddenly were violently ill or losing loved ones themselves.

I got vaccinated as soon as I could and helped my non-technology-savvy family members find

appointments for themselves, because to be able to receive the vaccine and reject that opportunity is selfish. Across the world, people are dying from COVID-19 and are unable to have access to the vaccines. The U.S. can vaccinate its entire population if it wants to, but some still reject it.

To be able to receive the vaccine, reject it, get sick and use hospital time and money is selfish. The unvaccinated are taking beds away from those who are having non- COVID-19 related issues like strokes, seizures, heart attacks, etc. In Spokane, Sacred Heart and Holy Family hospitals have stopped elective surgeries as they face
a spike in COVID-19 patients and lose I.C.U. bed availability.

If not for yourself because you are healthy, think of those who cannot be vaccinated. Children are being infected at a higher rate with the return to in-person schools and the FDA has not yet approved the use of the vaccine in those over the age of 12.

“After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially, with over a four-fold increase the past month, rising from about 38,000 cases the week ending July 22 to 180,000 the past week,” said the American Academy of Pediatrics in a Aug. 19 report.

It took my 9-year-old cousin five days at his public elementary school to be exposed, and my aunt has received the required COVID-19 notification from the principal every single day. With the eviction moratorium recently being overturned by the Supreme Court, parents have even less of an ability to home-school their child if they are afraid of their child getting sick. Otherwise, they have to trust their school system.

We have the power to change the tide of the coronavirus if we get vaccinated. Herd immunity is possible if we get vaccinated. We have the ability to change our current situation, and it pains me that our politicized society has turned doing something for the common good into something ugly.

Sydney Fluker is an A&E editor. Follow her on Twitter: @sydneymfluker.