1/2 Vaccinated

April 22, 2021

Yesterday morning, I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. Only around three days ago, eligibility for those sixteen and older to receive a vaccine opened up across the nation, and my school partnered with a nearby pharmacy to provide students who wished to get vaccinated with a vaccine clinic on campus. 205 students, around half of the student population of my school, chose to get the vaccine that day, though I know of quite a few people who were able to get their shots prior to the official eligibility date and all faculty members have already been fully vaccinated.

 As health experts and epidemiologists have said numerous times, vaccines are the solution to returning to some sense of normal, and though masks are not disappearing anytime soon, the most important change is, of course, that lives will be saved. My sister, a college student in New York, has already received both doses of her vaccine, and my parents will get their first shots this weekend. It is strange to consider that my sister and I were able to secure shots prior to both of my parents, who would both be deemed to be of a much higher risk than me or my sister due to their age. Even so, we are thrilled that by mid-to late May, everyone in my family will be fully vaccinated, and while we will continue to practice all safety guidelines as put forth by health officials, that crippling fear of contracting the virus that is universal across the country and the world will slowly start to fade away.

The approaching summer also fills me with excitement. The more Americans get vaccinated, the more normal the season will seem, and the warm weather and ability to be outdoors will also help mitigate the spread of the virus that, while dwindling, is still infecting people everyday. Though last summer my family was able to travel by car on a few occasions, the bulk of it was spent at home, and I look forward to more safe travel and excursions this summer as well as small gatherings, because like so many Americans, I have not seen many of my friends and family members for well over a year now.

Though I am hopeful about a gradual end to the pandemic, there is one very important barrier that must be overcome to achieve immunity among the American population: vaccine hesitancy. Time is of the essence for administering COVID-19 vaccines, as waiting too long allows the virus to continue to circulate in communities and for new, potentially deadlier or more contagious variants to emerge. Vaccines cannot save lives unless people get vaccinated. As many doctors and health experts have stated, vaccine hesitancy declines when people see their family members, friends, and colleagues get vaccinated, and so each person has a responsibility and important role to play in receiving their own vaccination so that others will feel more comfortable doing so too.

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