While many leaders in the political and scientific community have stressed that the COVID-19 vaccine will be how the pandemic ends, there is still significant hesitation about getting it, especially among college students. This needs to change.
According to PEW Research data, 18-29-year-olds make up the largest group of Americans claiming they do not intend to receive the vaccine. As of Nov. 20, only 53 percent of this age group intended on getting vaccinated once able. This number is significantly lower than 60 percent, the overall average of Americans intending to get the vaccination.
This data does not include why young adults are most reluctant, but we can easily speculate.
When it comes to COVID-19, younger people tend to experience less intense symptoms, as the virus is more severe for the elderly and those with underlying conditions. Therefore, there is a less assumed risk. For example, COVID-19 would likely be a nasty cold for a typical healthy college student.
However, there’s a reason classrooms operate at limited capacity and campus events are still virtual: younger people contract and spread the virus just as easily as anyone else. So yes, the pandemic still applies to us. This, in addition to potentially spreading the virus to classmates with underlying conditions, who cannot or do not want to sacrifice their in-person learning experience.
The pandemic has been raging on for almost a year now, and as college students, we sometimes need to be reminded why we put on a mask every day. For most of us, we do it for the protection of others. The same sentiment applies to the vaccine.
The Scout reported this week that some eligible students, including nursing majors, are already receiving it if they fall under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s distribution phases.
Meanwhile, others are hesitant the vaccine isn’t safe because of how quickly it was tested and produced. It’s true the FDA approved both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech’s versions for emergency use, but just because the process was streamlined does not mean it wasn’t thorough.
This is because scientists and researchers across the globe have never worked so diligently on a vaccine before. We’ve never had the technology, the funding and the scientific expertise to create a vaccine within this timeline. The vaccine is a product of the best minds and the best technology in the world coming together. The timeline is simply reflective of all the resources that were poured into the process.
The extensive list of requirements set forth by the FDA for emergency approval includes several phases of clinical trials. To those waiting to see “how the vaccine operates” on others before opting to receive it: It’s already been tested on a large sample size. The Pfizer vaccine, for example, was administered to 43,000 participants before being determined safe and 95 percent effective by the FDA.
The reality is that colleges and universities are already looking to make the vaccine a requirement for in-person attendance in the future. Bradley’s Jan.12 email stated the university is exploring the option. This is likely to take a while because vulnerable populations will need to be vaccinated first.
When the opportunity to be vaccinated arises, we should take it regardless of age or health. A vaccination may not save your life, but it certainly may save your neighbor’s.