On March 15, 2021, phase 1A of the Georgia vaccination plan opened for all Georgians age 55 and up and anyone age 16 and up with a qualifying medical condition. As of March 25, 2021, any Georgian 16 and older is eligible to be vaccinated. As a 16-year-old with asthma, I jumped at the opportunity to be vaccinated. The COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult time for my family. With multiple older relatives within a mile from my house, not being able to see them was scary and frustrating.
My grandma and my great aunt live within a mile of my house and need frequent help with household activities, so it has been hard to help out with the fear of getting them sick. My grandma was also unable to get the vaccine until recently because of chemical allergies, so my family needed to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
My mom was the first in our family to get her first dose of the Moderna vaccine. She was eligible because she is the primary caretaker of my great aunt, but it took a little longer for the rest of us. My dad and I were able to get our first doses of the Pfizer vaccine two weeks later, and my older sister got her first dose from UGA on March 30. Now over a month later we are all fully vaccinated.
The appointment for each dose was quick and simple. I went to Walgreens, filled out simple paperwork, went to a room, got the shot, and then sat for 15 minutes in case of any reaction. A few hours after my first dose I could feel the beginning of the side effects. I had extreme fatigue and after waking up from a two-hour nap, my whole body ached. The fatigue and body aches lasted for 24 hours, and then I finally felt like I could stand up again. This was a small price to pay to finally see friends and family again safely and without worrying about getting myself or others sick.
For many people, the side effects from the second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are worse than their reaction to the first because their immune system recognizes the virus and tries to fight it.
I thought that the second dose would give me a strong reaction but that was not the case. My arm was sore again and was slightly fatigued but still able to function normally. Studies have shown that the vaccines affect different people in many different ways but are proving highly effective in preventing COVID-19.
As of May 17, 37% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and 47% have at least one dose. As of May 10, the Department of Public Health reports that 34% of Clarke County residents have at least one dose and 29% are fully vaccinated. With these numbers slowly rising, hopefully a return to “normal” is approaching.
Even though the number of vaccinated Athenians is rising, only 9.1% of Clarke county residents ages 15-19 are vaccinated. If this number doesn’t increase exponentially soon, many typical teen activities will continue to be canceled. The vaccination process is a simple and easy process that can ensure the safety of everyone around you.
Now more than ever it is extremely important for students to get their vaccines. With summer approaching and the hope of returning fully in person in the fall, to make our school and communities safe we need to take action and get vaccinated.
Even though many Cedar Shoals students are eligible for vaccination, it is very important that we stay informed about the extent of vaccine immunity and precautions we need to take to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe.