Hesitation Misguided About COVID-19 Vaccine Among Students

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One of the very first vaccines to be approved for distribution by the FDA was Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine. “When [the vaccine] passes the test for kids, I will absolutely get it to protect myself, the community, and to take part in the herd immunity process,” said Harvest Kinn. As of February 16, 1,201,284 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

Irrissa Guyett, Staff Writer

Recently, a Mountain Star poll showed that many students do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to the public. As of Feb. 19, out of 88 total voters, 65% say they do not plan of getting vaccinated although the COVID-19 vaccine is already being distributed to high risk groups. With COVID-19 taking 462,037 lives in the United States since January, 21, 2020, the vaccines will provide much-needed relief. Many of the hesitations that students have about getting a COVID-19 vaccine are misguided.

One reason that most people may be hesitant about getting the vaccine are safety concerns because it was produced so quickly. However, the vaccine was able to be produced so quickly because COVID-19 was very similar to another diseases, like SARS and MERS.

This was also supported Dr. H. Dirk Sostman, executive vice president and chief academic officer of Houston Methodist. “The first piece of information researchers needed was the genetic sequence of this new coronavirus, and the virus’ genome was sequenced and made available by mid-January. At that point, the genetic similarity between this new coronavirus and SARS, specifically, was noticed. The vaccine targets and strategies that came out of the SARS vaccine research is what we’re benefiting from now. Given the genetic similarity between SARS and the new coronavirus, experts basically had a vaccine target cheat sheet — and manufacturers got to work immediately,” said Dr. Sostman.

Sostman also said that government funding provided a big help.

Vaccines must be throughly tested before they are distributed to the public. All medications and vaccines have side effects, and the COVID-19 vaccine is no different. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, side effects of the vaccine are pain, swelling, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache.

Another reason that more people are refusing to get the vaccine is the hope others will get it so they will not have to. According to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 51% of people would “wait and see how it’s working,” “definitely not get it,” or “get it only if required.” Meanwhile, 41% of those surveyed said they want to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and 6% of people who participated had already been vaccinated.

However, for herd immunity to happen with COVID-19, between 60-90% of the population need to be immune, through past infection or vaccination, but past infection means continued deaths among high risk groups. Herd immunity through vaccination will protect at risk groups by preventing the disease from spreading. However, more people need to get vaccinated for this to happen.

Dr. Paul Schulz is an infectious disease specialist at Norton Healthcare. Schulz said he talks to his patients frequently about the benefits of getting immunized. In the case of COVID-19, Schulz said hesitancy to receive the vaccine could allow the virus live longer.

Many medical experts and specialists urge people to get vaccinated. They agree that there is little to no risk in getting vaccinated, and it will stop the virus sooner. Getting immunized will prevent more deaths in at-risk groups, like immunocompromised and older people.

While COVID-19 is not deadly for most people, it has made the world a very scary place for those at a higher risk of death. “[I’m getting vaccinated] mainly to protect others. I’m more concerned about the people who are very vulnerable and could face even deadly consequences if they got it,” said Harvest Kinn.

Getting vaccinated prevents people spreading this virus to others and potentially killing them. It will also help eliminate this virus that has already taken so many lives.