Even before Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for people ages 12-15, there was a flurry of commotion among freshmen and sophomores regarding their shots. In the hallways, there were shouts of “I got my appointment!” and others wondering how they could get theirs.
Before the authorization of Pfizer’s vaccine for younger students, Lakeside was split by age between vaccinated and unvaccinated students. Now, the vast majority of the school will be fully vaccinated by the end of the summer, as Lakeside has announced that students older than 12 are required to be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the next school year, except for people with religious or medical exemptions.
Respondents to the Tatler poll were unanimously in favor of Lakeside’s decision to require vaccinations for the next year, as it facilitates a full reopening. Many expressed a desire to require everyone to be fully in-person in the fall as to eliminate the Zoom component of classes. Others, praising the convenience of remote learning, expressed a desire to keep it as an option.
Some also disagreed on the religious exemption – there are already required vaccines for school attendance, like the Tdap vaccine that protects against tetanus, students mentioned. Given this, should the COVID-19 vaccine be any different? Some said that students should only be exempted for medical reasons, not philosophical, and that unvaccinated students should be required to stay remote.
For one Lakesider, however, getting the vaccine had an extra layer of significance.
During the pandemic, this Lakesider’s grandfather was moved to an assisted living facility because of health conditions. He was isolated from the rest of the family for months because of safety measures, but starting in December, he and the other people living at the facility were allowed to receive visitors. What likely happened next is that another person living at the facility contracted COVID-19 from one of these visits and then passed it onto the Lakesider’s grandfather. He tested positive for COVID-19 in January.
The Pfizer vaccine was approved by the FDA on December 11th, and the Moderna vaccine on December 18th. The grandfather tested positive shortly after. Even though the vaccines were approved at that time, the current administration was holding back the rollout to guarantee first and second doses, so there weren’t many shots available at that time.
Shortly after Christmas, the Lakesider’s family received a call. “Come now, because he’s going to die.” Only their mom was allowed inside the facility to see their grandfather, in full PPE equipment. The other members of the family were only able to see the grandfather through the window. He passed away due to COVID-19.
For everyone, the availability of vaccines is a positive reminder, a reinforcement of the fact that the pandemic will soon be over. This Lakesider has received their first dose of the vaccine and will soon get their second. For many like them, who have lost friends and family to COVID-19, the vaccine and its protection hold personal significance.