What are the opinions of PA students on COVID vaccinations?


Gabi Altinok

Created by Gabi Altinok.

Thanks to the hard work of scientists in developing an array of vaccine options and an accelerated vaccine rollout pace, the country is now emerging from a period of deep angst and uncertainty over the possibility of contracting and suffering from or spreading a lethal virus. Indeed, many feel relieved to see a less menacing future on the horizon. PA students are no different. 

In a recent survey conducted by The Page, responses from PA students, ages 16 and above,  provided student opinions on whether or not to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Sophomore Lucas Breininger is part of the 37 percent of respondents who plan on getting vaccinated once eligible. Breininger explains that his “biggest worry when it comes to the vaccine is that I might end up having a bad reaction to it,” adding his reasoning that, because negative reactions to the vaccine have been “occurring so infrequently, it isn’t a major concern for me.” Breininger further reflects that his “biggest worry about not being vaccinated is that I may, even with mask mandates and social distancing guidelines, infect someone else.”

Like Breininger, sophomore Johanna Uhl supports the recent COVID-19 response measures, as she is a part of the 31 percent of PA students who are already fully vaccinated. Indeed, she views the CDC’s recent announcement that masks are not required for fully vaccinated people as beneficial, in hopes that it will encourage more people to get vaccinated.

Yet, Uhl finds the inability of business owners in public places to check the vaccination status of each individual disconcerting, making mask or no mask requirements somewhat obfuscated. In order to address this issue, she believes that it may be necessary for individuals to either show their vaccination card or continue to wear a mask inside public establishments, for the safety of all. 

Senior Sophia Meagher agrees, indicating that “I am as sick of masks as anyone, but I think the guidance is not very good because many people will just say they have both doses even if they haven’t.” In reflection, she asserts that “although our country and state are doing a great job with vaccination efforts, most places still don’t have enough to achieve herd immunity,” and that perhaps “we can stop wearing masks once we’ve hit a certain percentage of vaccinations.” 

On a similar point, partially vaccinated freshman Lauren Wilmoth states that “while I understand that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks, it bothers me that people who are not vaccinated are also feeling free to not wear masks.” 

Just like other PA students who demonstrate an effort to devise a solution to the issues they identify, Wilmoth posits that “I think there should be a way to check who’s vaccinated and who’s not,” and that while others might remove their masks, she will “plan on still wearing my mask in most public places after I am vaccinated” ― clarifying that she “won’t do this forever, just for the time being.”

Meagher, who has already been fully vaccinated, claims that she “didn’t have many worries” about the potential side effects of the vaccine, prior to being vaccinated, “because I knew the risks were extremely low.” Attempting to pinpoint her topmost apprehension, she cites “feeling bad after my second dose of the vaccine” as a leading disconcerting factor. When weighing the pros and cons of her decision, Meagher expresses that “although I definitely felt really bad after my second dose, I would opt to take one day of symptoms over possible permanent damage from the actual virus, any day of the week.”

In our collective transition into a summer that so many see as induction into normalcy once more, there is much relief shared by members of the vaccinated community. 

Meagher voices that being vaccinated, she feels “safer now that I have both doses,” adding that while she “wasn’t opposed to visiting friends or eating out before I had the vaccination, I will now be able to see my grandparents…and other family this summer, some of whom I haven’t seen in two or more years because of the pandemic.” 

What do you look forward to doing as we move out of the pandemic, into safer times? The Page encourages you to leave a comment in the form of a virtual “letter to the editor,” detailing that fact, below.