A student’s perspective on the COVID-19 vaccine

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Maddy Paterson, Staff Writer

COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon. However, with supplies limited, decision-makers have to make hard choices about who should get them first.

The vaccine is being given to healthcare workers first, who are at the highest risk for infection, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The next available doses will go to individuals who are at risk for more severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults and those with certain medical conditions, then essential workers in high-risk settings. As young adults, unless there is a high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, will likely be in the last group to receive it.

Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines. It is important to do your research and remain patient as you wait your turn.

“It is great young people are anticipating the vaccine,” said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is “a cause for concern,” she said. Right now, young Americans are eager to get vaccinated.

  • 62% of adults 18-44 years old say they would be willing to get a coronavirus vaccine, Gallup polling shows.
  • 75% of students nationwide said they would probably or definitely take an FDA-approved vaccine, according to new polling from Generation Lab.

The most vulnerable people — frontline workers, seniors, people with underlying health problems that can cause severe coronavirus illness, and members of the military — will be the first priority as a limited number of vaccine doses become available. The lowest-risk Americans — people who are young and healthy — may not get access to the vaccine until 2022, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, predicted recently.

“As more people get vaccinated, young people may think, ‘Oh, other people got it, so I don’t have to worry about it so much,” Mullen said.

However, the WHO has estimated that roughly 60-70% of the U.S. population would need to get vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity, the key to stopping the virus from spreading widely. This percent is only achievable if a lot of low-risk people get vaccinated.

The first phases of a vaccination campaign will shield the most vulnerable, hopefully causing deaths and serious illnesses to fall significantly. But putting the pandemic behind us will require lower-risk people to stay vigilant even after the tide begins to turn.

The first COVID-19 vaccines are a major development in the coronavirus pandemic. An effective COVID-19 vaccine will help protect people who come in contact with the virus from becoming sick. As more people are vaccinated, families and communities will be able to gradually return to a more normal routine.

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As students, most of us will be at the end of the list to receive the vaccine. However, when offered, it is your choice to receive it or not.

There has been research released on the effectiveness and safety of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer’s vaccine was authorized on Dec. 12, 2020, and Moderna’s version is being reviewed by the FDA. Both manufacturers report that their vaccines show approximately 95% efficacy at preventing both mild and severe symptoms of COVID-19. This level of efficacy appears to apply across age groups, racial and ethnic groups, and both sexes, as reported in the Pfizer trial.

As of right now, young, healthy people must remain patient while those who are at high risk receive the vaccine. It is imperative to continue maintaining social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines. When the vaccine becomes available, it is an effective way to work towards ending the global pandemic.