Vaccine rollout

Montgomery County has made the vaccine available to anyone over sixteen. In this article, the writer explores how much of the LM study body has received the vaccine. Additionally, it features quotes from interviews with students about their experience, as well as county officials.

After an entire year of waiting in limbo for some progress in the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine has finally become available to many people throughout the country. The distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to people ages sixteen and older has led many teens to schedule times to receive their shot. At LM in particular, many students have already received one or both of their doses. Many found that the second shot had more side effects than the first. Many felt sore, had a headache, were drowsy, among other symptoms. Side effects from the shot are normal and do not last long. 

Due to the rollout of the vaccine, all Montgomery County residents over the age of sixteen are eligible to receive the vaccine. Entire families, like senior Thea Kerekes’s family, are becoming fully vaccinated. Kerekes explains how her mom woke up at 4:00 a.m. to register her for a vaccine appointment online. She advised, “I got my first dose in Utah at a hospital at the end of March because they opened [the vaccine] to [ages] 16+ much earlier than in [Pennsylvania]. I got my second dose in Pennsylvania at a CVS in Lansdowne. Both locations were super quick, easy and well managed.” 

Unfortunately, not all LM students were able to receive the vaccine in the same seamless manner. Senior Faye Berry’s experience was much more disorganized. Berry’s dad was scheduled for an appointment and luckily there were extra doses left over for her. Berry explains how, “employees as young as me were writing down the names of people registering for the vaccine on printer paper. They could not find my name when I came in for the second vaccine and had to write me down again.” Like Berry, several other students have driven to local pharmacies or vaccination sites in hopes of there being leftover vaccines from the day. Since the vaccines expire after a certain amount of time, healthcare providers usually offer these extra doses to those who show up at the last minute so that they will not be wasted. 

Other students have taken more non traditional routes to receive a vaccine. Jason Castello ’21 had a similar occurrence when a family friend of his was at a local Rite Aid and asked the pharmacist if they gave extra doses to people. The employee was kind enough to agree to call the Castello family after the family friend gave the worker their number. In a matter of hours the Castellos received a call telling them that if they came down to Rite Aid they could all get leftover shots. 

While a considerable number of LM students have received the vaccine, some may be  hesitant to get it. However, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, getting the shot will not only protect you from getting sick, but others in your community, underscoring the importance of receiving the vaccine. Many believe that the vaccine was created so fast that the scientists and doctors who created the vaccine might have skipped a few steps or rushed to make the vaccine. Sherita Hill Golden, M.D., M.H.S. disputes this claim, saying, “The vaccines were made using processes that have been developed and tested over many years, and which are designed to make—and thoroughly test—vaccines quickly in case of an infectious disease pandemic like we are seeing with COVID-19.” Additionally, people should aim to get the vaccine as soon as they can. As Johns Hopkins Medicine states, “Waiting too long to be vaccinated allows the coronavirus to continue spreading in the community, with new variants emerging.” 

If you are sixteen or older, you are currently eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine and if you are eighteen or older you may receive the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. To schedule a vaccine appointment you may go to the CVS or Rite Aid websites at cvs.com or riteaid.com. Due to the high demand for vaccines, the process may be difficult: involving lots of clicking, refreshing, changing zip codes, and trying multiple times. Students may also use the PA Department of Health website and their map on health.pa.gov which indicates sites that had the vaccine available. Now that the vaccine is available to anyone over the age of sixteen, it is important that all those who are eligible get vaccinated to protect themselves and their community.