Students share views on vaccines

Henri Waché ’21 received the first round of the coronavirus vaccine on January 12. As a fire/EMS first responder, Waché is designated as 1B by Montgomery County – Michael Tallarida ’21 .jpg

The “third wave” of COVID is upon us––in many countries around the world, the coronavirus continues to surge in cases and death. With new cases in Pennsylvania at an all-time high and over 2,000,000 deaths globally, the newly developed vaccine may be the solution to bringing about the cessation of COVID-19.

     For students, one of the main concerns is that the relatively quick discovery and augmentation of the vaccine has lowered the quality. Will people have to sacrifice aspects of their health because of the vaccine? While this concern is valid, one must take into consideration the human power and collective effort put into creating the vaccine.

     “With the number of scientists that have worked on it, and if there was some concern regarding its effectiveness, it would have already been brought up. Working quickly does not necessarily mean working poorly,” Fourth Former Arnav Sardesai said. 

     The cutting-edge technology scientists have at their disposal means they only need the virus’s genetic sequence to create code to integrate vaccines. Older processes used in forming the SARS CoV-2 required obtaining the virus and then disabling it. This is the reason why the COVID vaccine has been developed faster than prior ones. Companies such as Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca have been at the forefront of creating and producing the vaccines. Contrary to popular belief about the rushed timelines, these pharmaceutical companies have gone through several phases of intense testing before being authorized. One vaccine in particular has revolutionized the way vaccines are produced.

     The MRNA COVID-19 vaccine, short for messenger RNA, is a new type of vaccine, made by Moderna. The vaccine “gives instructions” to our cells to make something called a “spike protein.” This protein can be found on the virus which can result in COVID-19. Once the vaccine is injected into the upper arm muscle, the cells use the vaccine to create the protein. The protein then goes on the surface of the cell. From there, our immune systems begin to build antibodies and biological defenses against the proteins. Ultimately, this should build a temporary immunization against COVID-19. Through Moderna’s testing with the new mRNA vaccine, there is a 90% success rate of temporary immunization and has been approved by the FDA.

     Even after this, the question remains relevant: “Should I take the vaccine?”

     According to the poll shown, 78.4% of the 139 Upper Schoolers who responded would take the vaccine. These results correlate with the national response.

     From results published by National Geographic back in December 2020, roughly half of the people in each category lean toward the side of getting vaccinated. An important factor for many students looking to take the vaccine is the safety of those close to them.

     “I would take it because I do not want my family members to be at risk,” Fourth Former Jay Crowther said. The vaccine, for many people like Crowther, serves an ethical purpose. As of January 16, 2021, there have been close to 19,000 deaths in Pennsylvania and 393,000 deaths nationally. Given the staggering numbers and increase in cases the past few weeks, the question of whether or not the state or school should mandate students to get vaccinated has arisen.

     Employers and schools can require COVID-19 vaccinations, so upper school students 16 years of age or older could potentially be required to be vaccinated in the future.

     “I think students who come to school should be vaccinated. The school is doing a great job handling the COVID cases but the vaccine would probably bring down the number of future cases at Haverford to 0,” Crowther said.

     Even if Haverford decides that students and faculty to take the vaccine, the state has the final say in mandating citizens to take vaccines.

     “If there is a way to increase the safety and health of our country, the government should do something to mandate it,” Sardesai said.

“I would like to gradually return to life as it used to be.”

Jay Crowther ’23

     At the end of the day, the vaccine and mitigation efforts enforced are meant to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and return to “normal” life.

     “I would like to gradually return to life as it used to be, with being able to see people more and return to sports practices and other public areas regularly,” Crowther said. 

     The vaccine has offered hope. If we work together, we can defeat this virus. Other countries such as New Zealand have already apparently reached this light. As of June 8, 2020, New Zealand has lifted all COVID restrictions and has declared their nation COVID-free. In the near future, there may be many more countries following in New Zealand’s footsteps.  In the United States at least, “normal” life seems distant; yet, we can still look forward to a time when COVID is no longer around. 

     “After the pandemic is over, I actually don’t know what to do,” Sardesai said. “Probably go to a concert or a Sixers game.”