Thoughts on Shots

Students over 12 can now receive vaccines. How have Stuyvesant students fared?

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For over a year, our lives have been shadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, plaguing a year and a half of our high school journey. But after months of clinical trials and scientific experiments, it appears the virus has finally met its match: vaccination. COVID-19 vaccines were approved in late 2020 and rolled out in early 2021 for people with critical health conditions and those over 60. By April 7, students over 16 could officially be vaccinated, and by May 12, that range was extended to people over 12. With a tough year behind us, the introduction of vaccines seems to be the last ride of the wave. Here is what Stuyvesant students had to say about it.

Though booking appointments was difficult directly after the introduction of the vaccine, most Stuyvesant students found the vaccination process to be quick and efficient. “The vaccination itself was great,” junior Cameron Kluger said. “I went to the Upper East Side and it took less than 30 minutes, including the time to book the second appointment.”

Seniors Jesse Hammer and Lamia Haque both received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is unique in its single-dose requirement. Both had similar experiences with the after effects of their vaccination. “By about 6:00 p.m., I was suffering intensely—I was dealing with fatigue, nausea, fever,” Hammer explained in an e-mail interview. Fortunately, Hammer was back on his feet the very next day and only felt a mild soreness in his arm.

Haque experienced similar symptoms. “I had a low fever, chills, and felt a little sluggish for a day, '' she said. The next day, however, she felt fine.

Junior Andrea Khoury had a more positive experience. Khoury received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and did not feel any side effects at all. “After the first dose, I didn’t feel anything. So far, after my second dose, I’ve been feeling fine,” she said.

The Pfizer dose hit junior Andy Lin differently than Khoury, he explained: “On both shots, I felt a slight sting for about a day. After the second shot, though, I felt that I had the chills for about a day, but it was manageable without any medicine, as I just bundled up a bit.”

Despite getting different vaccines and different side-effects, most students believed that vaccines should help to determine who will be allowed back in school. “Vaccinations need to play a role in who can return to school. It may be possible to have some unvaccinated people at a school if the percentage of people there who are vaccinated is at or above herd immunity levels,” Hammer explained. “However, until it's possible to determine what herd immunity levels are for a school environment, people who have not been vaccinated should not be allowed to go to school, for their own sakes and for their families.”

Above all, students are motivated to get vaccines, knowing it will lead to a path of normalcy—the last stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This year has been awful, and I miss pre-COVID times,” Khoury expressed. “Vaccines should be mandated, since there are no downsides to getting vaccinated [...] vaccines are the first step towards normalcy. They also just made an announcement that people can go outside without masks if they have been vaccinated, and I think we’ll see that trend continue through the summer.”

Haque agreed: “I cannot wait for a return to normalcy. One and a half years of my high school career have gone away because of this virus and I want to have real experiences again.”

Others take a different approach when considering our return to school. “While I think that vaccines should not be mandated, if the vast majority of us are getting vaccinated and encouraging others to follow suit, we’ll be able to move past the pandemic,” Kluger said. Hammer echoed this sentiment, expressing his support for people’s personal freedom: “I don't think that vaccines should be mandated. My attachment to personal liberties is too strong.” However, Hammer expressed concern about the health of the student body and general public as a whole. “It would be acceptable to require a vaccine for society's functions that have substantial risk of spreading COVID. In this way, one could avoid mandating the vaccine while still ensuring that general society remains vaccinated and most or all of those who are not vaccinated remain separate from those they might infect,” he said.

As we approach the new school year, those eligible for the vaccine are encouraged to sign up. In the words of Kluger, “[We] could use a more cooperative spirit as a society, and trusting our doctors and the people around us to prevent the spread is important.”