Covid Vaccine- Holy Grail or Not?

Read along to see what your fellow falcons think about the coronavirus vaccine.

Read along to see what your fellow falcons think about the coronavirus vaccine.

Annie Hu, Social Media Manager

On Friday December 11, 2020, the FDA approved the emergency use of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer, which has been widely anticipated as the pandemic stretched on into 10 months. The Pfizer vaccine was quickly followed a week later by the approval of the Moderna vaccine. A few days later, on December 14, Sandra Lindsay, a critical care director in Queens, NY was the first person in the U.S. to receive the vaccine. Since then, over 15 million vaccines have been distributed in the U.S. but only 4.5 million people have been inoculated according to the latest CDC Data Tracker. However, North Carolina is falling behind in distribution with a vaccination rate of 966 per 100,000, which is below the national average which is between 1,000 and 2,000 according to the CDC. The state is currently in Phase 1a of its vaccine distribution plan, which prioritizes healthcare workers and long term care staff and residents receiving the first shot, and is currently vamping up distribution centers to enter Phase 1b. 

Under North Carolina’s vaccination plan, the vaccine will not be available to Green Hope students until the state enters Phase 3, which is for students over the age of 16. While the vaccine is not yet mandatory, they are necessary to achieve herd immunity and for life to return to a semblance of normalcy, leaving the choice to be vaccinated up to students and their families. 

The GH Falcon surveyed the student body to ask if they would take the vaccine once it was made available to them and explain their reasoning behind it. 59.2 % of the students said they would, 10.2 % said no, 22.4 % said they had not decided yet, and 8% gave other answers. 

Many of the students who answered yes to the question cited family members in healthcare who had already received the vaccine as a reason. One student, Jazz Ross said, “My mother works for the VA, and it’s kind of required since she works with COVID patients and she took it and she was fine, so I would take it too.” Another common reason was because of family members who were at high risk as one student states “I have friends and family that are at high risk for COVID, I want to protect them. I also know that plenty of other people are in the same situation, and the only way we can protect those who are at high risk is if we all do our part.” Other students also echoed the sentiments that taking the vaccine would be for the greater good of the community as answers included “it’s the responsible thing to do”, “because vaccines are effective and they save lives.” and “This virus has taken the lives of so many and continues to have serious side effects on those who survive as well. I think we should all do our part to prevent the spread and ensure that we don’t get and transmit the virus.” 

This virus has taken the lives of so many and continues to have serious side effects on those who survive as well. I think we should all do our part to prevent the spread and ensure that we don’t get and transmit the virus. ”

— Green Hope student who’s requested to stay anonymous

There was also a strong consensus among these students that science and doctors were to be trusted as Kailey Fladung says “A lot of people put a lot of work into creating a safe vaccine in record time, so I think it’s awful that there is still so much misinformation out there. People should trust science and do something kind for themselves and our communities by accepting the vaccine.” Other students like Gabrielle Gonzalez ’23, also responded with scientific facts to back up her reasoning: “I would get the vaccine because I have an immune-compromised sister and family in healthcare. The idea that the vaccine is not safe is not supported by any logic: the mRNA technology in the vaccine is safer than deactivated virus vaccines, data on coronavirus vaccines have been around for years, making the fast-tracked nature make complete sense. The vaccine has a 90% efficacy rate, higher than any other vaccine of its nature. Getting the vaccine is necessary to protect me, others, and to ultimately stop the spread of COVID-19. Another student, Gavin Spreher ’22 had similar sentiments, saying “I’ve read all the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine, it has the same salts and sugars as Gatorade plus some mRNA. I’m more scared of what’s in instant ramen than the covid vaccine but I still eat instant ramen all the time.” 

I’ve read all the ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine, it has the same salts and sugars as Gatorade plus some mRNA. I’m more scared of what’s in instant ramen than the covid vaccine but I still eat instant ramen all the time. ”

— Gavin Spreher ’22

However, there was still some doubt from 30% of the students surveyed who indicated that they had not decided yet. One of the biggest concerns for those students was the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which was seemingly produced in under a year but scientists had long been working on a vaccine before the pandemic. Sophomore David Preis, said “I just want to see how effective it is and what the side effects are. The vaccine was created in a very rushed amount of time in comparison to most other vaccines so I just want to see if it works well first. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I just would like to know what I’m getting into.” Students Angela Lin ’21 and Eric Dong remained undecided about the vaccine because it would ultimately be their parents’ choice.

I’m not an anti-vaxxer, I just would like to know what I’m getting into.”

— David Preis ’23

There was more doubt and even apathy among the 10% of students who answered no to taking the vaccine. Isabella Chahin-Villeta, ‘22, simply says “because I don’t need it” and Aaron Vuytecki cites his youth as a reason not to take the vaccine, stating “Because there’s no need for me to get it, in all likelihood I would have mild flu symptoms, nothing more. The chances of a healthy young guy like myself dying of Covid are basically nil.” 

No matter how Green Hope students feel about the vaccine, it is a necessary and concrete step in ending a pandemic that has been exacerbated by ineffective government responses. For many students who want the pandemic to be over, this vaccine is a holy grail but to others, it is something to be feared. However, it could still be months before Covid vaccines are available to Green Hope students, allowing more time to decide.