The Time Has Finally Come: Vaccines For Students

April First, First Shots.

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Madison Corgan

Senior, Bella Dowd is newly vaccinated.

Madison Corgan, Reporter

In recent times, the COVID-19 vaccine has continued to become available to more groups of people every day. The vaccine gives us hope to a COVID-free life and a light at the end of the tunnel. Much sooner than we expected, the vaccine is beginning to be offered to individuals 16 years of age and older beginning on April 1, 2021. The Morgan student body has watched as first responders, medical personnel, people who are over 65, and educators get vaccinated. For some of our students, it is now our turn.

In this next round of vaccinations, individuals younger than 18 years old but at least 16 years old are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. Websites such as UConn Health and Hartford Healthcare have made the sign-up process simple by providing a filter showing only the Pfizer vaccine availability when registering a 16 or 17-year-old. Minors will also need their parents to sign for consent when receiving the vaccine. On the other hand, individuals 18 years of age or older are eligible for the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. 

UConn Healths primary vaccine coordinator, Kimberly Metcalf, stated, “The younger folks, they’re very busy with school and what not, so we suspect we’ll see more activity from that age group during spring breaks, which is coming up and other times like on weekends.”

Both Moderna and Pfizer are conducting trials with younger children. The hope is that children 12 and older will be eligible to receive the vaccine in late fall or winter 2021. Wearing masks and social distancing is preventing the spread in school with younger children.

This vaccine has been especially controversial for the younger generation. Some parents are concerned about their children receiving this vaccine. Teenagers often believe that there is not enough research done thus far on the vaccine, and as a result have chosen to wait. Individuals overall are skeptical about becoming sick or the long-term side effects this vaccine may have on their bodies.

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Within our Morgan family the total number of students that are 16 years old and older is 348. The number of students that are 16 or 17 years old is 288 while the number of students 18 years old or older is 60. On the Morgan PawPrint poll asking students if they will get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can, we received 53 responses. Out of the 53 responses, 34 people said they will, 11 people said they will not, and 8 people said they are not sure yet. 

To encourage our students to schedule vaccine appointments, Superintendent of Clinton Public Schools, Maryann O’Donnell, sent out an email on the evening of March 31, 2021, to our 18-year-old students’ parents notifying them that on April 1, 2021, they would be eligible to register for vaccine appointments. This email included information on Moderna clinics being held at Old Saybrook Middle School on April 1st, 2021, as well as information on where and how to register. Mrs. O’Donnell provided a link to the VAMS website to register and encouraged parents and students to consider the option of being vaccinated. Mrs. O’Donnell wants students and parents to understand the importance this step has towards normalcy. 

The Morgan School health aid, Veronica Ketch stated, “I believe it is a personal decision. If they feel that strongly that it’s not right for them at this time then they have to go with their gut feeling. Hopefully, they will at some point they will, so we can get this pandemic under control.”

When asked about possible vaccination sites being opened in Clinton, Mrs. Ketch responded, “I think yes that could be a possibility at some point because of the COVID-19 testing sites that have been popping up, so maybe the vaccine will follow as well.”

Senior Ciro Falanga, does plan on receiving the vaccine whenever he is able to book an appointment. Ciro stated, “I would like to protect my family, and also I do work in the restaurant industry, and so I want to be protected from it. Even though I know younger people are more likely to survive of it, I would still like to get it just like I get the flu vaccine every year. I don’t want to get super sick and then have to take off two weeks of work or something.” 

Ciro advocated for the vaccine and said, “I have read many articles about the vaccines.” Ciro believes the United States Government had been honest with the public. He said, “Considering the government of the United States is offering this vaccine to us free of charge, I say go for it and take it. They are not going to give us something that is going to make us abnormally defected. I think the worst that could happen to you is that you get a little sick afterward, and it’s better than having 600,000 more people die.”

Contrarily, students also worry about the unknowns about the vaccine due to how rapidly it was passed and created. Others are concerned about the experience in general.

Senior, Meagan Dundon, said, “I am personally not going to get vaccinated because shots are my biggest fear, and it’s too scary, but go for it if you want to.”

Senior, Mia DiMetro expressed her concern and said, “Maybe eventually I will. It just depends on the amount of research that is put into this because I have heard many stories about people who have been feeling really sick afterward or even actually getting COVID-19, so I just don’t want to be put at risk.”

Mia also stated, “One of my close friend’s mothers got the vaccine, and she got COVID-19 right afterward, so I just think it is a little awkward that happened to her and someone so close to us. I just don’t want that to happen to me too, and I could possibly die from having COVID-19.”

Before the new wave of eligible young individuals were eligible, some of our peers were able to fit into a different area of eligibility and could get the vaccine prior to April 1st. 

Junior, Kate Robinson is 16 years old and was eligible for the Pfizer vaccine early because she worked in a pharmacy. Kate has already been fully vaccinated and was able to share her experience.

Kate shared, “My vaccine experience was good. I got my vaccine at CVS. It did not hurt bad at all, and I am petrified of needles, so I was a little nervous. The first vaccine I did not have any side effects but second vaccine I had a couple of side effects like headaches, chills. That was really it all, and it only lasted a day or so.”

Senior, Rex Smith is 18 years old and received his first Pfizer shot on March 24, 2021, at the Nutmeg Pharmacy in Higganum, Connecticut. 

Rex said, “My arm hurt a lot, but that was about it, I felt good. I’ve heard the second is a little worse. Hopefully, I will be able to sleep a lot the next day. It was a pretty good experience. It was a quick line when I went, and it was quick and easy.”

Rex squashed some conspiracies about the vaccine when he stated, “I would say I can understand why you would be nervous because it was a short time frame that they took to develop this vaccine. Although, for anybody thinking about a computer chip, you are silly, and also your phone tracks you so why would they want to put a chip in your arm. For people who think it is unhealthy to get this vaccine because you do not know what is in it, it is developed from dead viruses, it’s a normal vaccine so do not worry.”

Some students have attempted to get a vaccination appointment and have been unfortunately unsuccessful. Due to the high demand and recent updates on the next wave of eligible individuals, getting a vaccination appointment could compare to winning the lottery. 

Senior, Annie Kennedy said, “I woke up at 7:40 this morning (April 1st) to book an appointment. I’m lucky to have adults in my life, like my choir director Rebecca Rosenbaum, who are able to guide me through the process of signing up. So by 8:00, I had made an appointment for April 26th; however, I’m hoping to find a sooner date over the next few weeks as I have high-risk family members and work in retail.” 

Since this interview, Annie was able to receive her first vaccine on April 5th. Annie went to the Walgreens pharmacy in Clinton at about 5:00 in the evening, and the employees told her to come back in 45 minutes because there were two extra vaccines, but they needed to call people on the waitlist first. She was then able to come back later and get the second to last leftover vaccine of the night. After her first vaccination was finished, she was then able to help a friend get the last leftover vaccine following her. 

This is an extremely current event that we are taking day by day as new information comes out. It is impressive watching these advancements unfold and at such a rapid pace. In the previous article on our Morgan staff receiving the vaccine, we predicted Morgan students over 16 years of age would be eligible by the end of the school year. We have watched the impact quarantine has had on preventing our students from being all together at Morgan. Consider getting vaccinated to protect yourselves and those around you for a step towards normalcy. As for our eligible students, prom and graduation are coming up soon and being vaccinated is the best defense against COVID-19.