Nine months into the pandemic, it may seem like there’s no end in sight. However, in the days and weeks to come, the companies responsible for the leading vaccine trials — Moderna, Pfizer and others — will begin to release their results to millions of anticipating Americans. Although we are still probably many moons away from a “normal,” pre-pandemic lifestyle, many people see a vaccine as a light at the end of this extremely long tunnel we’ve been crawling through. That being said, when the vaccine does arrive, it is crucial for Americans — especially college students — to put their faith in science and prepare to be inoculated.
Anti-vaccination movements have been around for decades, and COVID-19 has not been any different. Although it’s been repeatedly debunked that vaccines do not cause autism, and multiple prominent public health figures have vouched for the aggressive expectations that a vaccine will have to face, there is no shortage of skeptics. As of September, 49% of American adults said they definitely or probably would not get a vaccine. That number is absurd, especially considering the 70-80% inoculation rate we’d need in order to significantly slow the spread of the virus.
When a safe, effective vaccine is released sometime next year, the decision that Americans make will quite literally be a matter of life and death. As the majority of us are young, healthy college students, it is essential that we roll up our sleeves and place trust in the science that could ultimately save the lives of our loved ones.
There is no substantial reason not to trust the doctors and scientists who are working tirelessly to protect the lives of citizens all over the globe. We need to look past the shoddy, unpredictable claims of our president and accept the fact that there will be trade-offs for a vaccine that’s being produced in record time. Despite the massive phase 3 trials that multiple companies are starting to wrap up now, there may be serious adverse effects of a vaccine that occur in one in 1 million people. That being said, the Food and Drug Administration will not release a vaccine that could harm tens of thousands of people — the intense regulatory standards that are being followed simply won’t allow that.
Despite being in a low-risk category, 18-29-year-olds make up almost a quarter of all cases. We’re most susceptible to become superspreaders, fueled by a feeling of invincibility and what feels like unlimited freedom in college. Even though we may have the quickest recoveries or the mildest symptoms, we could be wreaking havoc on tens or hundreds of lives we didn’t even consider when tagging along with a group of friends to the bar.
With the continuation of frat parties, unmasked group outings and other unsafe ventures, it’s difficult to imagine that all college students will buckle down and take the pandemic as seriously as they should anytime soon. That being said, the least we can do is get inoculated as soon as we’re allowed to. With North Carolina’s vaccination plan already set in place, it could be a matter of months before a vaccine is approved and we’ll be able to roll up our sleeves for the safety of ourselves and others.
For every student who is tired of cancellations and desperately misses any semblance of the college experience, whether it be a packed stadium at Carter-Finley or a midnight trip to Target for some ice cream, I hear you. I’m tired too. However, in order for any of those wonderful things to happen again, to protect countless Americans who aren’t as lucky as we are to be young and healthy, prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine. It only hurts for a second.