We have a responsibility to get vaccinated

Our+social+responsibility+is+to+protect+our+community+and+get+vaccinated.

Photo illustration by Brinda Ambal

Our social responsibility is to protect our community and get vaccinated.

365 days ago we were safe in our homes. From late March to mid-May, our community experienced a stay-at-home order and, well, stayed at home. We watched Tiger King, baked banana bread and went on family walks. This temporary hibernation protected us in the best way it could, keeping ourselves and vulnerable community members distanced. However, this measure wasn’t enough to stop the spread of COVID-19, and neither was the lifting of the stay-at-home order later that month. As we’ve returned to the new normal, complete with masks, quarantines and more, we’re being presented with a glimmer of hope: vaccination.

Anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine; nearly everyone who has the privilege should, to help protect those who don’t. Despite widespread availability, there is palpable resistance to vaccination, with 13% of adults reporting that they will “definitely not” receive a vaccine. In our own community and abroad, many feel vaccination is not a safe or worthwhile pursuit. They are wrong. For the preservation of public health and eventual creation of herd immunity we need to focus on mass vaccination. All eligible people have a responsibility to get vaccinated. 

If you’re reluctant to get a vaccine, consider this as an action to protect your community. Press pause on your worries for a moment, and consider how it will impact the immunocompromised, the elderly and community members who stand to gain the most from herd vaccination. University of Chicago ethicist Laurie Zoloth explains this idea: “It begins with the notion that you should care about others, even strangers. And the idea that you should love your neighbor as profoundly as you love yourself — even placing their concerns and needs ahead of your own — is the great moral lesson and the core of justice in many religions.” The social responsibility we have to our community means we must get vaccinated. We should care about others and take action.

Vaccination is paramount to protecting our community and moving forward, and the education system plays a vital role.”

— Pathfinder Editorial Board

The COVID-19 vaccinations approved under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are just as safe as vaccines approved under a regular timeline. This infographic shows that EUA simply allows for vaccines to be mass produced while testing occurs. EUA does not allow for cutting corners in safety. It simply expedites administrative processes, like express shipping a package.

Vaccinations against diseases like polio, chicken pox, measles and rubella are already mandatory for public school students entering kindergarten in all 50 states. This has been effective in curbing and decreasing transmission over the past few decades, both within school buildings and their broader communities. Past results and empirical evidence are testaments to the efficacy of vaccines. Despite the COVID-19 vaccines’ expedited approval, they are still just as safe as the other, already mandated vaccines.

No vaccine is 100% effective. Even fully vaccinated people have a slight risk of developing COVID-19, but studies have shown that mass vaccination directly lowers transmission rate in communities, making the overall rate of infection for everyone much lower. By getting yourself vaccinated, you help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and even deaths.

Vaccination is paramount to protecting our community and moving forward, and the education system plays a vital role.

According to Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for immunization education at the Immunization Action Coalition, when lawmakers and immunization experts determine which vaccines to make mandatory for children attending public school, their biggest question is “Do we think this vaccine will make schools a safer, healthier learning environment for our children?” 

The return to in-person school has sparked many questions about safety and COVID-19 procedures. Many students and staff members have felt unsafe returning to a learning environment that was at-risk for COVID-19 transmissions. To minimize this risk and support a largely in-person learning experience next year, we must get vaccinated. 

Even though the risk of contracting the COVID-19 infection is low in children and young adults, getting students vaccinated will still have a major effect on the quality of in-person learning. Students will no longer have to worry about spreading the virus to others in their communities if they and their families are also vaccinated, which will result in an increase in in-person enrollment next school year. This means the risk of COVID-19 infection for the overall community is much lower and we will see better student-student and student-teacher interactions than those present. Getting your vaccination will allow for higher-quality in-person learning.

While public and private colleges alike have begun to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students returning in-person this fall, confident that probable legal battles will swing in their favor, public schools have less leeway to take that chance. The Parkway School District has begun to encourage vaccinations for eligible students through their Apr. 26 vaccine drive, but a full-dose should ideally be mandated, and at the very least heavily encouraged, to have any chance at a higher quality in-person experience next year. A school year with fewer worries and more of a chance to focus on the content at hand will only be possible with a vaccinated student body. 

Everyday, we take actions to support others and we make choices that do not harm others. Getting vaccinated is an extension of this choice. Make every effort and take every chance to get vaccinated. Do your part and adhere to your social responsibility so we can move forward as a community. Below we have some resources available so that you can get your vaccine. Please, do your part.

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Resources to get your vaccine: 

VaccineFinder.org

St. Louis County Vaccine Appointments

Walk-in or appointments available at St. Luke’s 

Walk-in site available at the Dome at America’s Center

Senior Sri Jaladi’s Vaccine Notification Registration Website 

If you are the parent of a Parkway student over the age of 16, and did not receive an email regarding Parkway vaccination opportunities for your student, or have any questions, contact Katherine Park ([email protected]).