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CCU professor: Requiring COVID-19 vaccination could be possible in some workplaces

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 7:01 PM EDT
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CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - An ethics expert said rolling up your sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine could soon be required in some South Carolina workplaces.

This comes at a time when two major medical providers in the state announced they are requiring employees to get the vaccine.

As of now, 43.8% of people in South Carolina are fully vaccinated. One Coastal Carolina University professor said based on that math, mandating the shot may be part of some organizations’ solution to end this pandemic.

Julinna Oxley, the director of The Jackson Family Center for Ethics and Values at CCU, said the process of requiring or mandating vaccines would be considered ethical actions.

“In the field of health, one is basically individual health and the other is public health,” Oxley said. “Individual health is like if you fall and break your leg and you get a cast. Public health deals with infectious disease that is airborne, the type of diseases where your actions would affect other people. The reason that some schools and workplaces require vaccines is because it’s considered a matter of public health. That means you’re in a safer space when other people don’t have a disease they can spread to you just by breathing.”

Oxley said the reasoning behind requiring the shot is based on core ethical principles to make the environment safer.

“The goal of requiring any type of vaccine is to make people safer,” Oxley said. “The ethical principles that are used to justify these kinds of actions include beneficence and nonmaleficence. Beneficence means the goal is to produce the maximum amount of good which is people living. Nonmaleficence means do no harm.”

Oxleys said leaders have to make the best decisions in the interest of public health, to prevent any more deaths or transmission of COVID-19, and now stopping any potential spread of the delta variant.

If more people don’t get the shot soon, she said a vaccine mandate may happen in some workplaces.

“My guess is that they were hoping for more people to get vaccinated out of their own free will,” Oxley said. “It’s not going away. Viruses just don’t do that, they mutate, their goal is to survive. I think people should fully expect to see mandates moving forward. Primarily because people haven’t gotten vaccinated at a high enough rate for it to not be transmitted in the community.”

Our news team reached out to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to confirm if the organization recommends any businesses mandate vaccines. The public information officer provided this statement to WMBF News:

“DHEC does not provide guidance concerning requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. Decisions about individual requirements are best determined by employers. DHEC does encourage COVID-19 vaccinations for all eligible residents. These vaccines are safe, effective and are the number one way for South Carolina and the rest of the nation to end this pandemic once and for all.”

Governor Henry McMaster’s office provided this statement to our news team on this issue:

“Every South Carolinian should have ample access to the vaccine and all information about the vaccine should be made readily available, but the decision to get the vaccine or not is a deeply personal one that can only be made by an individual. Under no circumstances will the governor mandate vaccinations.”

WMBF News also learned that Coastal Carolina University will not require its staff, faculty or students to be fully vaccinated this upcoming semester. Read the university’s statement about vaccines below:

“Coastal Carolina University will not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty, staff and students.

CCU’s Student Health Services (SHS) has completed the application process and has been approved to become a COVID-19 vaccine provider. The plan is to administer vaccines for students beginning Fall 2021. Additionally, the University will be launching a comprehensive program, which will include incentives, to encourage individuals to be vaccinated.

There are many COVID-19 vaccine providers in the area. Those interested in obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine can book online appointments by using scdhec.gov/vaxlocator or calling DHEC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line at 1-866-365-8110.

We will notify students when the COVID-19 vaccine is available on campus.”

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