As we quickly approach the one-year mark since we left campus due to COVID-19, many of us are looking forward to the vaccine becoming more widely available. The opinions on the vaccine that we see every day in the media are quite mixed. Some people are hesitant and feel that it was rushed; some people don’t care what is being put in their body as long as it means they can interact normally again. While all these questions and uncertainties float around the internet, it begs the question: Should we be required to get the vaccine?
This past week, I had to quarantine because I was potentially exposed. Although I only faced secondary exposure — I was exposed to someone who had contact with someone who tested positive — I still wanted to take the necessary precautions. The combination of determining whether or not I needed a rapid test, needed to quarantine or needed to wait until I was symptomatic to worry was enough to put me on the pro-vaccine side of the debate.
Thankfully, my negative results have provided me with a clean bill of health so I can leave the confines of my apartment. But, I will say I was a little hesitant to return to normal activity. Even though I tested negative, as did the person I came in contact with, the fear is still lingering. Should I really stop quarantining? What if I become symptomatic? To expedite the end to these doubts and stressful feelings, I think we should all be willing to get the vaccine.
As students, we are probably some of the most eager to go back to normal. In-person classes, on-campus activities and hanging out in groups are staple activities of the college experience. While the pandemic continues, they are also activities we are missing out on. If everyone returning to campus were to be vaccinated when the option is available, we will be able to participate in these things once again.
The doubt about receiving such a new vaccine is understandable, as fear-mongering is ever so present on the internet these days. The politicization of the vaccine has deepened the already existent divide between parties and has caused people on both sides to cast doubt on it or think they don’t need it. But if we don’t get vaccinated, COVID-19 will take even longer to be resolved.
Unfortunately, some students don’t see it the same way. Some believe that the precautions we take and the mandates the university put in place are excessive. Some believe that they are invincible or don’t need to worry about infecting themselves or others.
On February 24, we all received an email alerting us of the rise in cases and the new safety measures that the university is putting in place. We quickly received another email on February 26 revealing that the number of current cases is soon to exceed the total number of cases during the fall semester. Considering the number of students that were brought back to campus and the consequential increase in socializing, this rise is not surprising. The rise in cases can also be due to students who are disregarding the safety measures that were already in place to reduce the spread. The behavior of students who violate protocol in off-campus housing or bars and restaurants is disappointing especially since we are so close to receiving a vaccine. These violations are even more reasons that all students should get the vaccine if they are on campus. If students are refusing to follow guidelines, getting the vaccine could help to manage the spread.
If we truly want to return to normal activity safely, we should all be willing to vaccinate. Many are skeptical of Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine; however, Johnson & Johnson is developing a single-dose vaccine. Studies of this vaccine have shown it to be 66% effective against moderate to severe coronavirus infection and 85% effective against severe coronavirus infections. This was a multicountry study and the large clinical trial resulted in no hospitalizations or deaths. So, the options are there. Do your research, read the studies and stay aware of the different vaccinations that will soon be available.
Until these options become more widely available, I urge my fellow students: Please put your parties on hold. Basements, backyards and bars will still exist once we can all get vaccinated. Given the most recent email from the university, it seems that the possibility of getting sent home once again is very possible. To prevent this fate, follow the safety guidelines in place and become more aware of how you can participate in testing. Do your part to help us reach the finish line.
Lily Williams is a columnist for The Review. Her opinions are her own and do not represent the majority opinion of The Review’s editorial staff. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.