Photo courtesy of Caroline Stewart
It’s safe to say the COVID-19 pandemic has made this past year anything but easy for millions of Americans and their families. However, after a tough year of hardship and tremendous loss, it looks as though the United States is finally rounding the corner in its battle against this virus. As vaccination numbers continue to increase across the country, students are beginning to feel a glimmer of hope for the return to a more “normal” way of life.
On May 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved of the Pfizer vaccine for children 12 to 15. About a month prior to this, the CDC had approved the same vaccine for those ages 16 and up.
“I pre registered as soon as I was eligible but then I heard that if you call the M&T mass vaccination site when they open, you can directly make an appointment. So I called them one morning when their phone lines opened and it was really easy to book the appointment,” junior Christina Pannullo said.
While a majority of students were easily able to get an appointment nearby, others had more difficulty. Junior Hanna Bingley tried to make an appointment in early April, as soon as the CDC announced those people ages 16 and up were eligible, but quickly found out just how high the demand was for a shot in this area.
“For the first one I had to go to a mass vaccination site in Salisbury since that was the only place I could get an appointment. For the second one, I was able to find an appointment at a CVS in Hyattsville, Maryland,” Bingley said .
A simple scroll through any social media platform is all it takes to hear about the infamous side effects that accompany the vaccine doses. For junior Elena O’Connor, the first shot felt no different than the average flu shot but the second shot’s effects were more pronounced.
“The arm pain was worse than before. I became very tired, had some chills, and a slight fever (99.6 degrees Fahrenheit). These symptoms mostly appeared on the second day, but after that I felt completely fine,” O’Connor said.
As more and more people are becoming vaccinated, individual states are beginning to loosen the restrictions from this past year, with one of them being the mask mandate. In Montgomery County, the council has announced that those who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks indoors.
“I’m a little surprised that the mask mandate is being taken away. It feels a little early to get rid of it because I don’t think we are quite at herd immunity. But I also feel much safer now that I’m vaccinated so I’m not worried about the mask mandate dropping,” Pannullo said.
For students, the loosening of restrictions signifies a new beginning. Some are excited to see family members they haven’t seen in months while others, like junior Christina Panullo, are excited for the return of sports and traveling.
“I’m excited to see my friends and have peace of mind knowing that I have immunity,” junior Caroline Stewart said.
For any students looking to book a vaccine appointment, the site vaccines.gov is a great place to start. While there is still hesitation among a few, it is important to recognize the importance of these vaccines in stopping this deadly virus.
“There are people who cannot get the vaccine due to things like severe allergies. If you have the opportunity to get vaccinated, you should, in order to protect those who cannot. If that is not reason enough, it can offer you protection from a virus that has killed millions worldwide. Please do your part and protect yourself and others,” O’Connor said.
Check out this fun quiz to find out which covid vaccine you are!