As the US approaches winter, COVID-19 case numbers have spiked substantially. America is having flashbacks of the dilemmas it faced at the beginning of quarantine: Numerous infected patients have overcrowded hospitals’ intensive care units, daily infections have achieved record highs, mortality rates have continued to soar and California has regressed to a strict lockdown that has endangered small businesses. The need for reasonable measures and solutions increases by the day.
Many view an effective vaccine as the only relief to the ups and downs of pandemic surges; yet even with the imminent distribution of immunization, the vaccine still lacks trust among its intended recipients. Many believe it may not be effective and could have adverse effects. Others fear subversive conspiracies. According to recent surveys, only about 60% of US adults are willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In these trying times, inaction is not the way to solve problems, and quarantine is only a temporary fix to the growing issue. Students should trust the COVID-19 vaccine for a tangible opportunity at a permanent return to safety and security and a definitive conclusion to the pandemic.
Already, companies like Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their vaccines are highly successful at reducing the complications of the virus. On the one hand, a Pfizer-BioNTech press release boasts a 95% success rate for the companies’ vaccine. On the other hand, a Moderna press release states that the success rate for their company’s vaccine is 94%. Granted, many will not trust the statistics and data released solely from the companies manufacturing the products, but the US Food and Drug Administration is also in the process of approving the vaccines using studies monitored by researchers independent of the drugmakers themselves. In fact, on December 10, 2020, the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for emergency use.
Some students believe that the press releases from companies are sufficient proof of effectiveness. “I trust the COVID-19 vaccine,” says sophomore Noah Suboc. “BioNTech, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca are all big pharmaceutical companies, and they all have received government funding which probably makes them credible.”
Those who do not trust the vaccinations still have valid reasoning. If the medication is ineffective, recipients will only be treated to a false sense of security, not an effective immunization, and could still unknowingly incur serious health risks. On top of contracting the serious, debilitating effects of the virus, students could also miss weeks of school if their trust in the process is undermined. Classes may return to normal after mass vaccination, yet the specter of false claims could lead to many more serious cases if the treatments turn out to yield minimal success.
However, the benefits of believing in the vaccines’ safety outweigh the BBC drawbacks—especially for young people such as high school students. Even if they are less efficacious than first advertised, they still provide people with, perhaps, a psychological security and justify returning to beneficial in-person activities. With the decline of the economy and the rise in unemployment, both businesses and employees are desperately seeking to return to a semblance of normal life, a time in which very few were pleading the government for financial support. Students are fully experiencing the downsides to learning in screen-dominated isolation and many wish to return to regular classes for a better experience.
When considering the benefits, sophomore Sean Kwak remarked that “being comforted that things will get better” would be one of the main factors in his decision to receive a vaccination.
In addition to mental comfort, teenagers and young people also have a much lesser chance of experiencing the virus’s severe effects, and an effective vaccine could even spell the end for the pandemic across the entire US. Granted, the current investigations into the effectiveness of the vaccine has limited data on long-term effects or the impact of the drug upon specific populations such as pregnant patients, the younger patient population (including those younger than 16 years of age) and those with some specific health care needs. And as such, long term follow-up studies will be ongoing in order to provide even more comprehensive, trustworthy data.
Concerns regarding the worsening pandemic continue to grow. The jolly spirits of the holidays have been replaced by nurses’ traumatizing descriptions of patients’ last breaths, empty seats at the Thanksgiving dinner table and vitriolic protests against quarantine conditions. The rollercoaster-like trends of self-imposed isolation can no longer support a nation whose suffering citizens cry out for change. Trusting in COVID-19 vaccinations may be the only way to see a light at the end of a darkening tunnel.
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