Bailey Hryb, Managing Editor
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York State residents aged 16 years and older are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning that all members of the Utica College community are able to register for a vaccine appointment.
New York is one of the leading states when it comes to vaccine rollout. According to the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, as of April 7, nearly 4.5 million residents had completed their vaccine series, with over six million residents receiving at least one vaccine dose.
This is a major step for the U.S., as well as the Biden Administration. President Joe Biden promised Americans that all adults would be eligible for the vaccine by May 1. With more and more vaccines being developed and distributed each day, the likeliness of all American adults being eligible by the beginning of next month looks promising.
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“I do believe that it is important for everyone to get vaccinated so we can get back to some sort of normalcy,” said Amber Jenkins, a senior studying business management.
Jenkins, who is slated to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, stated that she was nervous about receiving the shot. However the safety of her grandparents and nephew is at the forefront of her mind and is her main driving force behind receiving the vaccine.
There are three brands of COVID-19 vaccine available at this time: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer and Moderna are given as a two-shot dosage, meaning that recipients of those brands will have to receive two separate doses two weeks apart. Johnson & Johnson, on the other hand, offers their vaccine as a single dose, which is an easier option for those who do not live near a vaccination site or struggle when it comes to leaving their home.
It is important to note that if a recipient is over the age of 16 but under 18, they are only eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, as the other brands have not been tested amongst younger adults as of yet.
Utica College is working on bringing the vaccine to campus to distribute amongst students and staff. In emails sent out to all students, Vice President for Emergency Management Shad Crowe announced that the college would be teaming up with Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC), Mohawk Valley Health Systems (MVHS) and Walgreens to give the community a chance to become inoculated.
“All UC students are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and there are several convenient opportunities to get your vaccine in the next few days,” said Crowe in an email sent out on April 6. “The Oneida County Health Department, in collaboration with UC and
MVCC, is holding a COVID-19 Johnson & Johnson POD on Sunday, April 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at MVCC’s Jorgensen Center. In addition, walk-in appointments are available to UC students for the MVHS Pfizer COVID-19 POD, located immediately across the street at the Burrstone House.”
For students who are not able to get to these locations or will not be available during the scheduled time slots, the college has announced that Walgreens will be returning to campus to distribute Johnson & Johnson vaccines to eligible community members from noon to 5 p.m. on April 13 in the Strebel Student Center.
Utica College previously teamed up with Walgreens last month to hold a Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic for college staff and faculty members only. At this clinic, 240 people waited in line to receive their vaccine.
“I was excited to receive my shot and was happy to have accessibility to the single-dose vaccine since it made it much easier for me to schedule,” said Brooke Green, one of the many recipients of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the March clinic on campus. “I was not nervous for the shot, but more excited to be a part of the vaccination movement to hopefully return campus back to normalcy soon.”
Recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine have reported mild side effects after receiving it. Experts claim that flu-like symptoms, including headache, mild fever and drowsiness are to be expected, as well as pain at the injection site.
It has been reported that younger people tend to have stronger reactions to the vaccine, which included more severe side effects that have the potential of hindering your daily tasks. In an interview with ABC News, Dr. Dean Blumberg, a specialist in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of California, claimed that younger people have more adverse reactions because they have a more sensitive immune system.
“We think it’s because the younger people may have a more robust immune system, as well as a stronger immune response, that leads to more of the side effects but the immune system gets a bit revved up,” Dr. Blumberg said. “On average, younger people do have more side effects following immunization. They have more local side effects such as the pain and the swelling, the redness, as well fever, fatigue and headache.”
Green, who is also a senior majoring in health studies, reported feeling down for the count after receiving her vaccine last month, citing adverse side effects that lasted for a couple of days.
“I experienced multiple side effects from the one-dose vaccine,” Green explained. “I had a resting heart rate of 120 bpm during the first 12 hours after receiving the vaccine. I also had a 102 fever, weakness, dizziness and poor appetite. I felt better two days after receiving the vaccine, but I experienced almost every side effect listed in the pamphlet that was provided to us before receiving the vaccine.”
Mackenzie Lowden, a senior studying communications and media, is one of many citizens who are hesitant to receive the vaccine. Lowden explained that her hesitation stemmed from witnessing her sister experience adverse reactions to her shot.
“I’m not planning on receiving the vaccine,” Lowden said. “It makes me nervous because everything happened so quickly and I just feel like there isn’t enough research on it. My mom got both doses of Moderna and my sister just got Johnson & Johnson yesterday. My mom didn’t have too many side effects but she was just a little achy after her second dose. My sister, on the other hand, is really sick right now because of hers. I know a lot of people have been fine after getting the vaccine, but I’ve also heard a lot of horror stories from people who’ve gotten one too. I’m just very hesitant at the moment, but the more people I know who get it, the more likely I am to get it myself.”
With summer swiftly approaching, many people are itching to get back to normal life again; a life free from mask mandates, public-gathering restrictions and the fear of getting severely sick. Experts say that normalcy cannot return without herd immunity to the disease.
According to the CDC, herd immunity is defined as a major portion of a population being immune to a certain strand of virus, either because of previous infection/exposure or receiving a vaccination. Since the goal is to decrease the number of infections, the CDC is advising that all eligible individuals get vaccinated sooner than later. The more people that get vaccinated, the sooner we can return to a form of normalcy again.
“I would recommend any student to receive the vaccine when they are able to because it is the only way to help our campus return to normalcy, like having in-person events and more classes being held in-person,” Green said. “I can’t find any reason for a student not to get the vaccine if they plan on continuing their education.”
There are still available vaccination slots for the Johnson & Johnson clinic located at MVCC. Students interested in signing up for this event should visit this website. Those who are interested in receiving a Pfizer vaccine at the Burrstone House across from campus should visit this website.
For information on how to register for the on-campus Johnson & Johnson clinic on April 13 in the Strebel Student Center, students must fill out this survey, as well as also filling out the necessary information located on this form.