For many college students, COVID-19 has turned their lives upside down. Education has evolved to be almost completely virtual, and Zoom sessions and Google Meets have become a part of our daily routines. Instead of walking across campus to class, one only needs to open their laptop.
COVID-19 has been running rampant throughout the United States for almost a year now. This virus created the need for a vaccine and, thus, a rush for its development. This expedited process has not been seen before and broke records for the short length of time it took for the vaccine to be released to the public. Americans now have three different vaccine options available, all approved by the Food and Drug Administration, with two more vaccines in Phase 3 of clinical trials according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most recently approved vaccine is the Janssen vaccine, manufactured by a division of Johnson & Johnson and approved on Feb. 27.
All of these vaccines are currently available for healthcare workers, long-term care staff and residents, the elderly and frontline essential workers. These categories include groups one, two and three. In group four, adults at high risk of exposure and illness will become eligible to receive the vaccine. After group four, anyone not previously mentioned that would like to receive the vaccinations can do so.
Meredith College has been enforcing COVID-19 preventative measures since the earlier months of 2020. In the coming months, another preventative measure will be open to Meredith students: vaccination. Most college students will be a part of group five.
Students at Meredith have varying opinions concerning vaccination. One junior, Anna Prince, stated that she plans on receiving the vaccine, saying, “I have already had COVID and don’t want to have it again.” Prince did not have a preference for which vaccine she would receive between Pfizer or Moderna, the two that were approved at the time of her interview.
A freshman who wishes to remain anonymous stated that she does not plan on getting the vaccine. She said, “I’m not sure if I feel safe taking a vaccine that was made so quickly, and also my family has decided to wait to get it. I don’t plan to get it until it’s a requirement.” While this is a concern for many in the United States, the University of Chicago reports that “those wondering about vaccine safety may be encouraged that despite the speed in which these vaccines have been developed, the important regulatory and evaluation checkpoints designed to protect patients were followed.” Because coronaviruses like COVID-19 are common, researchers had been attempting to develop a vaccine for coronaviruses for years before COVID-19 was discovered. Additionally, because of Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine development program, the timeline for vaccine development was accelerated because pharmaceutical companies did not have to delay clinical trials or distribution due to lack of funding.
When asked if she would take the vaccine, another anonymous freshman said, “Yes, I would take any chance to help get the world back to normal.” This freshman expressed their preference of receiving the Moderna vaccine over the Pfizer one: “I’ve seen those who have received [the Moderna vaccine] have had less adverse reactions.”
All three students said that they have continued taking preventative measures against catching the virus, such as washing and sanitizing their hands regularly, wearing a mask when in public and socially distancing. While these measures can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, vaccination is much more effective. Each vaccine has unique features, but are similarly effective.
The Pfizer vaccine is given in two doses in the muscle of the upper arm. The doses must be given 21 days apart. This vaccine is recommended for those 16 years of age and older and is said to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.
The Moderna vaccine is also given in two doses, though this one is given 28 days apart. It is also given in the upper arm. The Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective in preventing COVID-19 and is recommended for those that are at least 18 years old.
The Janssen vaccine is given in just one dose in the upper arm. The Janssen vaccine is 85% effective in preventing COVID-19 at least 28 days after vaccination and is recommended for those that are at least 18 years old.
By Maggie Barnhill, Staff Writer