Worth a Shot

Students express hopes about vaccine distribution process, encourage others to get vaccinated

When junior Jayden Riley got his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he said he appreciated the diligent work that enabled him to get it. 

“It’s weird to think that last year I was still stuck in my room quarantining,” Riley said. “But I’m extremely thankful that we’ve gotten this far this quickly. I know for me as soon as the requirement to get vaccinated opened to (ages) 16 and older, I immediately scheduled.” 

Others at the school share Riley’s appreciation. Although sophomore Macie DeLillo is ineligible for the vaccine at the moment, she said she’s thoroughly impressed about the work already done so far.

“At the rate we are distributing doses, there seems to be a good outlook making me very hopeful for the soon future,” DeLillo said. “I am also hopeful that a vaccine gets approved for ages 16 and under very soon, getting us closer to ‘herd immunity.’ But I also understand that the process has been thought out and executed at an appropriate pace so that systems were never constantly overloaded with recipients or large quantities of the vaccine were not put to waste.”

Riley and DeLillo’s hopeful expectations are shared with Monica Heltz, director of the Fishers Health Department. According to Heltz, officials have taken many actions to ensure the rapid rollout of more vaccines.

“We have our epidemiologist do modeling every week to when we project to reach ‘herd immunity,’ and target our messaging to certain demographics that appear to be lacking,” Heltz said. “Plus, Pfizer has already submitted its emergency approval for distribution of people (ages) 12 and up, so I think we will start to accelerate the rate of vaccinations once the demographic opens up more.”

Riley Terbush

Despite these hopeful expectations of fast vaccine rollout, Heltz also said there has been a dip in the rate of vaccinations for unknown reasons.

“Although we’re at a point where we can get any amount of vaccine distributed, we’re starting to see that there’s been a dip in the demand for vaccine appointments,” Heltz said. “I think part of it is that the vaccine is more widely available, and the other part may be because since we’re getting into younger age groups the desire to get vaccinated may be smaller.”

Riley said he has noticed this dip as well, with many people saying they were apprehensive about the fast roll out process of vaccinations.

“I know a lot of people who aren’t getting the vaccine because of fear of the possible side effects of vaccinations given the fast approval of them, especially with the Johnson & Johnson blood clot issue,” Riley said. “That’s my only worry when it comes to the future of our response to the pandemic; if people don’t want to get vaccinated then it ruins the whole idea of tackling it.”

Although this common criticism and worry is justified, DeLillo said it should not outweigh the benefits vaccines give, especially with the state of crisis the pandemic has caused.

“It is important to put the issue into perspective. Six people out of millions getting blood clots from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is such a small percentage; you are exponentially more likely to get blood clots from the virus itself,” DeLillo said. “I think the fast approval of the vaccines is necessary for the situation we are in. If the vaccines were pushed back a few months, the COVID variants would probably be the dominant strains in our country, leading to greater infection and death rates.”

Riley said in order to increase the demand to get vaccinated, there should be a bigger effort to clear up any misconceptions.

“I know in the beginning stages, the pandemic was heavily politicized and that has been detrimental to the efforts of containing the spread,” Riley said. “It’s important to remember that the effects of your actions don’t just affect you, but also others. That’s why I got vaccinated, I wanted to protect my friends, family and community. I hope people educate themselves so we can protect everyone.”

DeLillo said she agrees. “Do your part in protecting yourself, the ones around you and the community by getting the shot, and continue wearing your masks to protect the ones who can’t get it yet.”

If people continue to follow guidelines and get vaccinated, Heltz said the pandemic will subside quicker. 

“It’s our duty to continue to do the practices we know work like getting vaccinated, wearing a mask even with the lifted mandate, and social distancing,” she said. “By doing our part, we will get through this.”