Texans debate state mandatory vaccinations

Tarleton students are given the opportunity to discuss various controversial topics, such as whether or not public-school students should be mandated to be fully vaccinated, through the interesting program called Texan Debate, which is sponsored by the Department of Communications. The Parliamentary Debate program is modeled to mirror the University of California Chico’s Great Debate. The purpose of this program is to give students the ability to discuss controversial topics utilizing organization, thoughtful analysis, respectful and civil presentation of their arguments.
Fall 2019 Texan Debate was held on Nov. 6. The debate allows students enrolled in COMM 1311, 1315, and 2302 to discuss the many attributes of the newly proposed full vaccine mandate for all Texas public-school students. Four separate debates were held to discuss this topic, and the final presentation was held in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Auditorium, while also being broadcasted over the radio and live streamed on YouTube. The topic of full mandated vaccination is quite controversial and stirs up many thoughts and emotions. Social media, influencing the spread of misinformation, has created a large stigma surrounding vaccinations, leading to the anti-vax movement. Students, Nash Beualieu, and Andrijana Vulovic argued in place of the government, in favor of mandated vaccinations. Students, Christopher Freeland and Noah Johnston argued in place of citizens in opposition of mandated vaccinations. Both teams were questioned by an esteemed panel following the presentation of their arguments. The panel included Ms. Ginger Brown, a Registered Nurse, Dr. Nathaniel Cogley, Head of the Department of Government, Legal Studies and Philosophy at Tarleton State University, Dr. Miranda Nash, Tarleton Alumni who runs the MedSurge clinic of Stephenville, Dr. Laura Phipps, a member of the faculty of graduate and undergraduate Public Health Programs at the University of Texas- Arlington, as well as Dr. J.D. Sheffield, elected to the Texas House of Representatives out of District 59, he served on the Public Health committee during all four of his terms. The debate began strongly, with a presentation from the team in favor of mandated vaccinations. Vulovic hinged her support on the statistic that out of a thousand doses of a vaccine, only one in two patients will react adversely. Therefore, with such few negative reactions, vaccines must be provably safe, and it is thus justifiable to mandate full vaccinations prior to students registering for public school. Freeland, for the opposition, quickly stated that he doesn’t agree with mandating, but he is not necessarily anti-vax altogether. He began his argument with the HIV vaccination, which is administered to children shortly after birth. “Children just out of the womb should not be susceptible to a disease primarily caused by sexual interaction,” Freeland said. HIV vaccinations inevitably cause children to be twice as likely to contract a fever, which is extremely dangerous during infancy. Freeland also presented the idea that Texas already has required vaccinations prior to public-school registration, therefore, what will the government gain from a further mandate? Following the opening of the debate, the support and opposition parties continued to present facts and statistics in hopes of combating the other party and refuting their arguments. Beualieu, in support of the mandate, states that this mandate aims to be a preventative system to reduce fatalities in the event of disease contraction. However, in opposition, Johnston countered that 99.16 percent of students in Texas are already being vaccinated.
“This mandate is just the newest government power move,” Johnston said. To further solidify the argument of the opposition, Freeland began to explain how vaccines should be justifiable before being required for school registration. An example of this, is, the Hepatitis B or Tetanus vaccine, neither of these diseases or illnesses are probable to be contracted in a school setting. “This proposed mandate targets less than two percent of the public school population who remain nonvaccinated solely due to exemptions,” Freeland said. The opposition believes if vaccines are to be 100 percent mandated, they should also be fully insured as safe and necessary. Vulovic strongly countered Freeland’s argument, highlighting that vaccinating continuously against disease prevents breakouts in future generations. She says, “Vaccines are also some of the safest medical practices in modern medicine,” Vulovic said. Her argument is also shaped around the idea that vaccines eradicate disease. Following the complete presentation of their arguments, each panelist provided two questions to the debate teams, to further test their knowledge. Both teams presented well in both their arguments and in question answering. They were overall prepared and knowledgeable in the subject matter. Upon conclusion of the debate, the audience was invited to vote on which team created a stronger argument. The team representing the government, in favor of mandating full vaccinations prior to public school registration won by a slim two percent in the polls.