Summer is quickly approaching, and just like every other year, students’ minds are beginning to think about vacations and other activities that would not normally require a second thought. But, as usual, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed things. This summer may be similar to those before COVID-19, but the number of COVID-19 cases are currently increasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). If everyone does not follow proper guidelines throughout the summer, the upward trend may continue. However, there is one way to ensure that the summer can be safe and fun for all: COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Apr. 19, every U.S. adult is now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, according to the New York Times. President Joe Biden originally set his deadline for all adults being eligible for vaccinations as May 1, but he moved it up by two weeks when he saw the rising numbers of people getting vaccinated. The New York Times reports that half of all American adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and around 84.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.
However, the distribution of vaccines does not come without any issues. On Apr. 13, 2021, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recommendation to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. According to CNN, Johnson & Johnson recently paused administration of their COVID-19 vaccine after reports of blood clots in at least 7 recipients. These blood clots were a rare type of clot found in the brain referred to as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, according to the New York Times. The condition developed within one to three weeks after administration, according to the New York Times. The CDC now cautions recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to immediately seek medical care if they experience any of the following symptoms – severe headache, backache, new neurological symptoms, new or easy bruising, severe abdominal pain, shortness of breath, leg swelling or small red spots on the skin.
Hearing about the dangerous side effects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can lead to hesitation about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, but the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a different type of vaccine than the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. According to CNN, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are mRNA vaccines while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses an adenovirus vector. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which is a new vaccine seeking emergency use authorization by the FDA, also uses an adenovirus vector in the vaccine and has been linked to blood clots in its clinical trials, according to CNN. However, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have shown no link to blood clots in any recipients or clinical trials, according to CNN.
We have had an unique opportunity at Berry in many aspects. With our on-campus vaccine clinic and in-person classes, our experience with COVID-19 has been different than other colleges. In the “Berry bubble,” COVID-19 has had a relatively small impact compared to the rest of the world. But we cannot forget that the pandemic is very serious and has affected the world in so many ways. We may not even be aware of some of the long-term effects of the pandemic. So, we must act with caution now. Get your COVID-19 vaccine and protect yourself and others from contracting the virus. Herd immunity can help us end the pandemic and ensure a safe future for all.
The number of people getting vaccinated so far are encouraging, but we need to keep going. We are on the right track with 50% of the U.S. adult population partially vaccinated and around 30% fully vaccinated. Continuing to vaccinate the rest of the population will help bring the pandemic to an end. According to the New York Times, Moderna and Pfizer are already working to expand eligibility to 12 to 15 year olds before the end of the year.
Even after the receiving the vaccine, continue to practice social distancing and wear your masks. The CDC guidelines recommend wearing a mask even after having full immunity if you are around immunocompromised people or attending a large gathering. Fully vaccinated individuals should also wear masks when they are around people who are not vaccinated. Even being fully vaccinated does not enable individuals to completely disregard COVID-19 guidelines.
During the summer, enjoy the warm weather, but also stay vigilant, practice social distancing and wear your masks. Even with a vaccine, there is still a possibility of contracting COVID-19. We cannot throw caution to the wind. If we do that, the pandemic may never end.