So much more than a shot

Senior Lucia Rivera recently received the COVID-19 vaccine due to her position as a volunteer at a local hospital. She began volunteering two years ago.

Lucia Rivera

Senior Lucia Rivera recently received the COVID-19 vaccine due to her position as a volunteer at a local hospital. She began volunteering two years ago.

I tried to calm myself as my brain processed the email I had just received. My teacher continued the lesson as I messaged my parents. 

Us? my mind reasoned. We can’t be the ones next in line for it… but it was true. The local hospital was now distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to all their volunteers, including me. 

As I stood in the long line two days later, I couldn’t shake the wrongness of it. I desperately wanted to donate my dosage to any of the elderly and at-risk people in need of the vaccine, like my 87-year-old grandmother. 

If only the world made sense…

Instead, I am now scheduled to take my second dose in exactly two weeks. No matter how wrong it feels, I know it’s my responsibility to get vaccinated when the opportunity arises. 

” Getting vaccinated myself, however, could in some way help my community. ”

— Lucia Rivera

Over the past few months it has become obvious that the vaccine rollout is deeply flawed. The news is flooded with reports of wasted doses, protests, vaccines left unused and refused vaccinations

Declining the vaccination I was urged to take would not have ensured someone immunocompromised or at higher risk would have received it. Getting vaccinated myself, however, could in some way help my community. 

Now, more protected from the dangers of COVID-19, I hope to return to my weekly volunteer shifts where I aid health care workers, patients and visitors. More importantly, when each one of us gets vaccinated, we’re helping the country escape the climbing death rates that have consumed us this past year.

“This is the most terrible pandemic of a respiratory disease that we’ve had in 102 years,” Chief Medical Advisor, Anthony Fauci said in a recent video. “So, a vaccine not only protects you, it could protect your family and protect the community.”

Our community becomes better protected as vaccination rates increase. According to the Cleveland Clinic, it is estimated that up to 80 percent of the population needs to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before we reach “a point of collective immunity where the disease is no longer likely to spread,” otherwise known as herd immunity. 

Lucia Rivera

Healthy high school students like me shouldn’t have been ahead of so many others in the long line for vaccination, but at least every vaccination helps us climb out of this pandemic.

It has been exactly a week since I got my bandaid and congratulatory sticker and I know I’ll forever be incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had. In spite of the statistics that reveal 45 percent of adults in the U.S. doubt vaccine safety to some extent, I barely had any symptoms after my shot. The primary one was feeling like I did a serious tricep workout with only my left arm.

If the vaccine is safe for you to take, I urge you to do so when the opportunity arises. This extremely flawed system is what we have at the moment, but the more of us that come out of this pandemic healthy, the more that can help improve our systemic failures for the future.

On the day my shot was scheduled, the vaccination itself felt so simple, yet surreal. But it was really so much more than a shot. It symbolized a critical systematic error, but simultaneously symbolized moving forward.