Students age 16 and older seize vaccination opportunity

Story by Sofia Alva
Associate News Editor

Photo courtesy of Russel Farmarco

Students who have received the coronavirus vaccine, which became officially available to all California residents over the age of 16 on Thursday, April 15, have felt safer knowing they are protecting themselves and their communities.

Out of the three vaccines currently available — Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer — Pfizer is the only one being administered to those under 18. Senior Lindsay Michels received the J & J vaccine, which requires only one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer’s two.

“I wanted to get vaccinated to go back to regular life,” Michels said. “Receiving my shot was the first step to being able to feel safe while shopping, being with friends, competing, and everything else that I’ve been missing.”

In the days leading up to April 15, many vaccination sites were reporting extra doses — an opportunity junior Sofia Farmarco capitalized on.

“On my birthday, my friend’s dad called her and told her about an opening to get the vaccine at White Memorial Hospital,” Farmarco said. “He asked if I would want to get the vaccine that day too, and I said yes. We waited in the line to get the vaccine and I ended up getting it faster than expected. My arm was really sore after I got it, but I’ve experienced that with other shots I’ve gotten over the years. The worst part was the headache I got the next day, but luckily it didn’t last too long. Other than that, I didn’t have any [bad] reactions to the vaccine.”

Coronavirus vaccine mandates have also been a topic of discussion among students of both high schools and colleges. Michels is committed to Colby College and she sees the value in the immunization requirement if the vaccine is made easily accessible to students by schools.

“I’m going to a small school with 2,000 kids, almost all of which live on campus. It makes sense for us to be vaccinated, to share close quarters and stay safe in the small town where my school is,” Michels said. “Having the vaccine will hopefully restore normalcy in education — something I’ve been missing and needing the past year.”

While some waited until they were eligible through California’s tier system, others sought out the vaccine unconventionally. Freshman Michelle Shadmon has been participating in a Moderna vaccine trial since February.

“We had to go to a clinic where the [doctors] explained everything,” Shadmon said. “They took our vitals, we did a coronavirus test, and they also took our blood. Then, two doctors or nurses came in and gave us either the real vaccine or a placebo shot. I still have not been unblinded, so I don’t know if I have gotten the vaccine yet, but just knowing that I may have it is super exciting.”

L.A. County has administered vaccines to almost four million residents thus far, and is currently in the state’s orange, or moderate risk, tier.

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