A shot in the dark

Greta Schaub

As of April 7, according to The New York Times, nineteen percent of America is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. While that number might seem small, it is rising every day. The COVID-19 immunization is being distributed rapidly in America, at 16.3 million vaccines a day. This is different than just another shot at a yearly checkup. For many, this vaccine is the key to a return to normalcy. From going on college visits to visiting grandparents to living without the fear of dying from COVID-19, an immunization is a light at the end of this very, very dark tunnel. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that the key to the vaccine being successful is herd immunity. This is where a certain percent of the population is vaccinated to the point where the threat of catching the disease is much smaller. Fauci said in an interview that he estimates this herd immunity percentage to be 80 to 90 percent. At 19 percent, we have a long way to go. Don’t let these numbers get you down, there is still hope. The fact that there is a vaccine at all is a blessing itself. One year ago, at the beginning of a pandemic that would affect the world more than we could know, a vaccine was not. 

However exciting, there are lots of questions about the vaccine. When will I get it? Is it safe? Will it give me COVID-19? Will it make me immune? While not all of these questions have been answered, there are still things we know about this immunization. In most states, the vaccination was prioritized towards the elderly, healthcare workers, essential workers and so on. Thankfully, we are now at a point where it is much more accessible to everyone. When it is distributed, there should not be much to worry about as far as the contents of the vaccine. It does not give the receiver COVID-19, however it also does not make them immune. The beauty of the vaccination is that it lessens the effect of COVID-19 if one does contract it and makes it less likely for one to catch it at all.Although these are big steps after a year of quarantine and/or masking, the unfortunate part is the waiting game. In order to see numbers of cases decrease significantly, millions of people not only need to be vaccinated, but they also need to continue practicing caution. The vaccinated can still pass the virus to unvaccinated people. 

As someone who is a strict mask wearer and social distancer, I am used to being frustrated and tired of this isolation and lack of normality. I am used to staying home from trips and haven’t been out of Iowa since 2019. I am used to not holding on to hope and taking every step forward with a grain of salt. I try not to get my hopes up, so I won’t be let down if things were to get worse. This all changed one day in January 2021. I was sitting in my room after school doing homework. I decided, on a whim, to watch an interview with Dr. Fauci about the vaccine. 20 minutes later, I was crying. For the first time in a year, I felt true hope. I saw the light that everyone else had been talking about at the end of this tunnel. Finally, after a year of disappointment, I saw it too. It’s been a few months since my revelation and I am proud to say that I will be fully vaccinated at the end of April. I feel blessed to get the opportunity to be a part of the road to a new normal. If you are even slightly considering getting the vaccine, I encourage you to do your own research and make an educated decision for yourself and your community. 

There is still lots of information coming out about COVID-19 and the vaccination process. The lesson to learn here is while there is more hope than ever, Coronavirus still exists and takes thousands of lives everyday. Being vaccinated is not a pass to go party or take a vacation around the world. Keep being patient, keep being cautious. There is finally an answer if we choose to accept it.