New Jerseyans 16+ Now Eligible for Vaccination

Vaccines are rolling out: why should we get them and what will they allow us to do once we do? According to the CDC guidelines, fully-vaccinated people are allowed to gather safely indoors without masks and without social distancing. They are also allowed to travel domestically without a self-quarantine. They don’t have to get tested before or after traveling unless they are required otherwise by the country they are traveling to. However, people need to be aware that they aren’t fully covered by the vaccine until two weeks after their second shot (depending on the vaccine as some are only one dose). For now, the CDC suggests that people remain careful and avoid large gatherings, wear masks, and social distance until more information is gathered.

Do non-vaccinated people and vaccinated people who are meeting still have to follow the strict safety precautions? According to the CDC, it depends. If the non-vaccinated people are at a high risk of catching COVID-19 (such as those with asthma or a heart condition) then they and the vaccinated people should still wear masks and remain at least six feet apart. However, if the non-vaccinated people are not at high risks then they are not at risk of catching a serve case of COVID-19 even not following the procedures. 

You may be asking well if I’m vaccinated, can I go to a large party with my friends now? Not quite… the CDC currently suggests that everyone, vaccinated or not, should avoid medium and large gatherings. However, if a large gathering like this is held then masks and social distancing should be implemented to reduce the visit (but not totally eliminate it).

The Pfizer vaccine is soon to be authorized by the FDA for ages 12-15. Those who are ages 16 and above have been eligible for a vaccine since April 19. For those of us who are still waiting (including myself), we can only hope that by summertime we will all be fully vaccinated. I interviewed four students, three of whom are not yet eligible and one who is. I gathered their opinions on receiving the vaccine, hopes for a normal summer, and major changes they expect to see in the future.

Bella Salerno, a freshman, says that she plans on getting vaccinated and hopes that this will allow her to socialize more with friends without the fear of getting sick. She says that this summer may return to normal for some but other “students won’t be able to because relatives in their household won’t be vaccinated and they could be high risk so they would have to wait until their entire family is safe.” She thinks that masks will remain for a long time to come as this has become part of daily life for many. She says that this might help to slow the spread of other common illnesses.

Jackie Meskill, a freshman, states that she doesn’t plan on getting vaccinated but hopes that once enough people are she will be able to travel again. She hopes that this summer will be more normal allowing her to visit her family in Bulgaria. The main change she thinks we will see is the “number of feet between people will decrease. That being said, I think mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing will still be requirements.”

Decklan Spencer, a senior, plans on getting vaccinated as soon as he is eligible. He thinks that getting vaccinated will allow him to eventually start to see one or two fully vaccinated people and then eventually attend college safely. He believes that that the major difference will be people having social anxiety. “Even as things become safe and open, I imagine a subset of the population will find themselves more repelled from social gatherings, more nervous talking to groups, and attending sporting events and concerts.” His opinion is that masks might remain but that social distancing will quickly dissolve as it’s human’s social nature to gather and interact.

Audrey Dolich, a freshman, hopes to be vaccinated sometime in the future when it becomes available. She thinks that getting vaccinated will allow her and others to “go to more populated places without having a large risk of getting Covid. [she’ll] be able to see groups of friends who are also vaccinated without masks, just like a year ago. Getting the vaccine will allow [her], and others to get back to more normalcy in the world, and will bring back more of the socialization that we haven’t gotten in the past year.” She predicts that masks will still be required in public places up until the summer of 2022 but thinks that social distancing will be lessened dramatically.

The bottom line is that the vaccines are out and soon everyone will become eligible. The sooner everyone gets their vaccine the sooner that life can return to a state of normalcy. The sooner everyone will be able to attend school, the sooner we can see our friends and family, the sooner we can travel, and the sooner we can finally take off our masks! Before then we must remember to wash our hands, watch our distance, and wear a mask.

Bronwyn Spencer
Staff Writer

Graphic: Isabella Harelick

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