Teachers Receive COVID-19 Vaccines

Teachers at Stuyvesant have started to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as it has begun to be administered to educators.

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By Emily Lu

After first being administered to frontline medical workers and people at high risk of contracting COVID-19, teachers and other essential workers are now receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Several teachers at Stuyvesant have already been vaccinated or plan to receive the vaccine.

Currently, the two vaccines available are the Pfizer vaccine, authorized for those 16 years and older, and the Moderna vaccine, for those 18 years and older. Both vaccines have success rates of approximately 95 percent and require two doses, with 21 days between each dose of the Moderna vaccine and 28 days between each dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

To get vaccinated, teachers have to make appointments through New York State or City or private locations, such as hospitals or clinics. Teachers were notified of this process by union representatives. “I got an e-mail [...] and our union representative told us that people were getting appointments early. I immediately got online and got an appointment,” Latin teacher Susan Brockman said.

Brockman received the first dose of the Moderna vaccine in the second week of January. “It was the least painful shot I’ve ever gotten,” she said. “Moderna is on a four week interval so the second shot is the booster shot and they say to expect a little worse side effects with the second shot. My arm was sore and I had a couple days of taking some ibuprofen and [had] little bits of aches and stuff but I’m not afraid about the immune response you get from vaccines.”

Math teacher Ashvin Jaishankar received his vaccine at a local high school facility and found his experience to be safe and efficient. “I waited in line for no more than five minutes and it only took a few minutes to verify my appointment,” he said.

Jaishankar signed up for a vaccination because he believes that the vaccine is beneficial to public health and reducing the spread of COVID-19. “I had made the decision to get the vaccine once it was available because I’m a big believer in science and public health,” he said.

Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram encountered difficulties in receiving the vaccine as her initial location refused to administer to people with allergies that affected breathing. Due to her tree nut allergy, along with appointment cancellations caused by a low supply of doses, Ingram was unable to receive the vaccine at that location. “It took some juggling on the internet of sites and going back and forth checking at different times of day to find a location that had an available appointment,” Ingram said in an e-mail interview. She later received the vaccine on January 25 at a location that accommodated allergies.

Upon getting vaccinated, some teachers felt that they could have received the vaccine at a later time. “I'm a little bit older but I'm able to work from home and I feel like I'm not in as much danger as some people. I have a sister who is only one year younger than me and she can't get the vaccine yet because she's not a teacher, so I feel a little guilty. But on the other hand, I'm very happy,” Brockman said.

With more vaccinated teachers, many students hope that schools will reopen soon. “It’s great that teachers are able to get the COVID vaccine, now that healthcare workers have been vaccinated already. Hopefully this will help speed up the reopening of schools,” sophomore Alena Chen said in an e-mail interview. “The quicker everyone is able to get vaccinated, the quicker things can start to go back to normal,” she said.

However, some students are cautious about teachers receiving the vaccine due to the speed at which it was released. “Teachers getting the vaccines are a little rushed. I don’t think it was really necessary because I doubt we’re going to go back to school at the end of the year, so I don’t really see a need to get them vaccinated first,” sophomore Caleb Song said in an e-mail interview. “Also, we don’t know if there is any risk to taking it, so I think it puts [teachers] in an unnecessary risk.”

Others are less hopeful in returning back to school due to the new COVID-19 variants. “I wondered if they would start opening the schools, but the thing is that with these other variants coming in and none of the kids getting vaccines, I'm not sure,” Brockman said.

For now, Brockman, like many, hopes that in-person school will return by the fall. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think by the fall we will be back in school,” she said.

With more doses of the vaccine distributed every day, many hope that more of the public will get vaccinated. “I understand that people have some hesitation getting the vaccine and some might have side effects, which make them feel a little leery,” Jaishankar said. “But I think the pros far outweigh the cons, for not just your own health, but for public health.”