• Alicia Tang

Fast and Furious: Vaccines for 16+ in CT

Cover photo credit: Suzanne Konstance

It’s the students’ turn now!

Governor Ned Lamont’s administration has been working diligently to restock vaccines, enabling Connecticut to surpass most other states in vaccination rates. Meanwhile, eligibility brackets have widened considerably, making those 16 and older, a sizable proportion of the Greenwich High School student body, eligible for vaccination.

Though the prospective date for this group was originally April 5, propitious circumstances and ample supply have accelerated the rollout process, moving the date up to April 1.

Alexandra Bailey, a senior doing in-person learning, commends the student body for wearing masks consistently and for observing the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others thus far. However, she has come across the occasional few who have neglected to correctly wear their masks, making her feel unsafe.

Junior and remote learner Eva Marder recognizes that “it is impossible to remain committed to these health guidelines 24/7,” so she would feel most safe with the protection of a vaccine. In addition, she noted that “although there is no guarantee of achieving complete immunity, any large population of vaccinated people would make me feel safer at school and in public.”

Senior Sasha Heaven, who has already scheduled her vaccine appointment, has been longing to return to the usual bustle of the school saying that the pandemic has robbed her “and many other students of the opportunity to enjoy their last tumultuous year of high school.” She eagerly anticipates her return after getting vaccinated and is eager to ditch her full remote learning routine of fixing her eyes onto a screen upon waking. She further noted, “Getting the vaccine could move us closer to having more students in person as the school year comes to a close.” Hopefully, this early vaccination date will grant her enough time to relish the few remaining activities of the year before she graduates.

Map of VAMS-affiliated locations for vaccine distribution

All three express marginal or no concern regarding the safety of the vaccine itself. Still, Bailey thinks that potential worry can be attributed to the fact that “these vaccines have come out so quickly, and there has been no time to see side effects.”

Although Marder doesn’t necessarily feel anxious about the safety of the vaccine, she believes that she “would be able to focus more on schoolwork than COVID” after knowing that the vaccine causes no harm.

Meanwhile, Heaven takes heart in knowing that all three vaccines—the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—have “been extensively tested for efficacy and most importantly safety,” as well as in having reassurance from family members that work in the medical field.

In light of the exciting news, however, state officials remind it is nonetheless important to evaluate one’s own risk before scheduling a vaccination appointment as vaccines still need to be prioritized towards the immunocompromised population. In the meantime, Marder feels it is still essential to continue maintaining safety precautions and refrain from treating them as passing “seasonal fads.”

Regarding the near future, Bailey thinks “everything will return to some type of normal,” but still believes “people will have some habits picked up during the pandemic that influence their actions (for example, not shaking hands, always having hand sanitizer on hand, etc.).”

Heaven acknowledges, like Bailey, that the pandemic and its isolation will leave behind some indelible effects. Heaven observed a steep incline in mental issues such as depression and anxiety but still sees a silver lining—that we’ve at accrued “experience as a world dealing with a pandemic.”

Heaven is hopeful, knowing that although “it is hard to say when globally things will be ‘normal,’ ... there is light at the end of the tunnel that things will get better and people will be able to live their lives.”

For assistance scheduling an appointment in the closest available clinic, visit ct.gov/covidvaccine, or call Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224. For other options, review Dr. Toni Jones’s email on vaccination procedures.

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