Students and teachers await the COVID-19 vaccine


Señora Dentler helps junior Jamie Cain with her work.

Vaccinations have become as polarizing as gun control in recent years. After decades of increased tensions and decreased trust in science among many groups, the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to change the tune of the world as countries worked towards a vaccine. 

Now that the COVID-19 vaccine has made its way to the United States, many teachers and students are left to wonder whether or not getting the vaccine is the right choice for them. Plain Local teachers who signed up for the vaccine will be given it on Saturday. Vaccines are given out at the local health department.

There are countless pro’s, con’s and personal experiences that feed into this looming decision. For junior Shawn Swift, his thought process was simple.

“Personally, it was a no brainer for me to get this vaccine as I work with elderly and go to school in person,” Swift said. “I feel as if it would be selfish to put my friends, family, classmates and residents in danger with how much I have to interact socially.”

Swift has worked in a nursing home since his freshman year of high school and received his first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 4. Since he is a healthcare worker, Swift had the opportunity to get the vaccine earlier than the general public in order to protect the patients around him and reduce their exposure to the disease.

Swift is not the only one to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for job security. Spanish teacher Pamela Dentler had similar thoughts as she prepares to get the vaccine in February.

“Job safety is a big thing,” Dentler said. “More importantly, because I have such a history with respiratory issues, I know what it feels like to struggle to breathe and to nearly suffocate from your lungs closing up. So the thought of a disease that does that to a person and leaves lasting effects is very scary to me, very scary, and it hits very close to home.”

The lasting effects of this disease are terrifying and life changing for those who have seen firsthand how it changes the bodies of those who you love. For the immunocompromised, like Dentler, this vaccine is beneficial for these reasons and more.

Despite this more positive outlook on the vaccine, there are also downsides that have been pushed aside. For example, the vaccine rollout process has been a struggle for the elderly and general public to access as they attempt to stay on top of important updates. Chemistry teacher Heather Corey shares these sentiments.

“While I feel very fortunate that I am able to get the vaccine so soon, I am also disappointed to see the governor prioritizing teachers over many elderly Ohioans,” Corey said.

The disappointment with the vaccine rollout process is not limited to Corey’s observations. The speed of the rollout has been criticized under the old administration and plans to increase output have been in place since then.

“I am disappointed in the speed of the rollout overall of the vaccine. I feel like we have had this [vaccine] for a while now,” Dentler said. “You know, I am grateful to be with my students, but I feel like I should have the opportunity to be protected as well for myself and my family.” 

These contrasting ideas seem to be common among teachers and students in the community. Warring thoughts on the pro’s and con’s of such an important decision constantly compete in the back of the minds of countless individuals. 

When deciding to get this vaccine, it is important to understand the fundamentals. How it works, long term effects and possible reactions are common. For example, the way that this vaccine attacks COVID-19 is completely different from what has been seen in the past.

“This vaccine is low-key brilliant,” Corey said. “It utilizes mRNA and doesn’t contain any live or dead virus, and it targets the spike protein on the virus that allows the virus to get into our cells.”

With all hands on deck across the world, a feat as big as this would seem impossible in the past. Now that more research and funding has been funneled to the process, scientific breakthroughs such as this one are paving the way for a distant future that is COVID-19 free.

While these teachers and students have had relatively positive experiences with the vaccine, and plan to or have gotten the vaccine already, it is important to note how big of a decision this is for the community as a whole. 

“I wouldn’t say that there is a ‘one size fits all’ for anybody,” Dentler said. “I do know some people that are perfectly healthy and, another teacher that I have in mind actually, who is not going to get the vaccine for the reason that they say, ‘What if my dose is something that somebody else needed more than I do and I am perfectly healthy?’ This person thinks, you know, ‘I can survive, I can be okay and have no underlying issues so I am going to save my dose until it is more readily available for someone else who needs it more than I do.’”

The vaccine has provoked an important debate among teachers and students that continues to wage on in the general public’s mind. Questions and concerns are destined to persist as rollouts increase, but the fact of the matter remains, it is necessary to work together to fight this disease and think not only of ourselves, but of the lives of others as this health war wages on.