Chimacum High School. (Source: Chimacum School District Facebook)
A local high school is offering students nearly half of their required community service hours to get the coronavirus vaccine. This effectively bribes the students into making a medical decision that should be left to the students and their families.
Chimacum Junior/Senior High School (CJSHS), near Port Townsend, requires students to fulfill 55 hours of community service hours to graduate. The school emailed students this week with ideas. Students can pick up litter, attend an online school board Zoom meeting, or write a letter to a newspaper editor.
But one community service option caught a parent’s attention: getting the COVID vaccine.
Vaccine for graduation
Students who get the COVID vaccine and submit paperwork proof will earn a whopping 25 hours towards their community service requirement.
This feels coercive, like a form of bribery to push kids into a decision they may not want to make. But the pitch is appealing. The vaccine process may take about 30 minutes, yet students recieve a premium on getting the vaccine. Earning 25 hours — nearly half of the required hours to graduate — for one or two shots? High schoolers may jump at that chance.
“At CJSHS, we are providing our students with opportunities to improve their community in ways accessible to them given the circumstances of this pandemic,” principal David Carthum emailed the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Vaccination is just one of the voluntary ways that students can choose to fulfill this requirement. We know that immunization helps protect our community, which is why we call it a service.”
Carthum notes students have many options beyond vaccination.
“There is no coercion; students can choose any of the options or suggest their own,” he said.
One father disagrees.
This is up to parents
One father of a student reached out to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. He slammed the decision to “place incentives” on getting a vaccine. He argues it “can diminish the role of parents” in determining if a vaccine is the right move.
“There are many in our communities who don’t look at a COVID-19 vaccine as a necessary risk for their healthy children to partake in, and this may undermine that position,” he told me via email. “These decisions (health decisions) are for parents and families to make alone and should not be incentivized by public entities such as the public school system.”
He argues linking the vaccine “to an important requirement for graduating high school seems to be a sleight of hand by the school to influence young men and women [into] a decision they may not otherwise make.”
The dad is right.
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