February 2021 Volume 4, Issue 1
SVCC students, administrators, staff, and faculty expressed hesitancy to take the vaccine and gave their reasons as to why. Cathy Ferguson, a Lee County Health Department Administrator, responds to everyone’s concerns.
A survey that was conducted by the Skyhawk View revealed that the majority of SVCC students and staff do plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. The results include that out of 161 people 99 plan to get the vaccine (61.49%), 45 do not (27.95%), and 17 already have (10.56%).
Those who answered “No” to the previous question gave reasons that ranged from, “Unknown long term effects,” to, “Not convinced it’s safe,” and, “not sure.”
People that are still uncertain if they will get the vaccine list nervousness and anxiety around the vaccine. However, one person that said that also said this, “Of course, the thought of getting Covid is scary too. So I feel like I will eventually get a vaccine, I'm just not sure if it will be right away...”
The reasonthat was given by most people in the survey that didn’t want the vaccine was a fear of unknown long-term effects. One student feels that there is “Not enough information on the vaccine.” This worry was echoed in many comments and as another student said they feel there hasn’t been “enough studies.”
Cathy Ferguson says “It is correct that we don’t have long term data on potential side effects” but side effects “would have shown up within 2 months after a person is immunized, meaning anything severe would have likely shown up in trial participants by now.”
Even though there could be long-term effects “experts say that they would be rare and that the benefits outweigh the risk.” Meaning the unknown long-term effects of contracting COVID-19 could be worse than any from a vaccine.
Related to people feeling there is a lack of studies on the vaccine, they also feel uneasy about how quickly the vaccine was approved for release. One person said, “I feel like it came out fairly fast compared to other vaccines and medicines which take years to get approved.” One response said that “Corners can be cut in processes like these,” and that, “The scientists were stressed and rushed to produce a vaccine as quickly as possible…”
The quick response was brought on by the immediate need for a COVID-19 vaccine and it was accomplished due to the advancements that have been made in medicine. People still worried can rest easy in knowing that “Large scale trials were done for both of the COVID-19 vaccines currently being used in the U.S.”
Ferguson also said, “Both Pfizer and Moderna received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA’s), and the, “FDA meticulously reviews data from each clinical trial phase before granting a EUA.”
A couple of responses said that the person feels comfortable not getting the vaccine as they are a normal healthy adult. One person said, “I'm [a] healthy adult that has had the virus and have been exposed several times since and believe that I am immune.”
This is a potentially dangerous way of thinking because as Ferguson explains, “It is currently believed that individuals have at least 3 months’ immunity after having had the virus. There have been reports of reinfections beyond that.”
As for a person that feels invincible because they are a healthy adult, Ferguson says, “I would ask them to consider the fact that the more we can work towards herd immunity, the more likely we will be able to get back to a more normal way of life.”
Ferguson also said that “we don’t know yet whether the vaccine prevents one from spreading the virus” but it has “ a high degree of protection against illness.” This makes it less likely for a person to spread the virus on to another person that is vulnerable to suffering serious sickness or death from COVID-19.
Some in the survey said they are simply not medically able to receive the vaccine. People cited “Complex Medical Condition[s],” “Existing Health Concerns,” and being allergic to both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Ferguson informed that the CDC “considers a history of the following to be a contraindication to vaccination,” meaning that some reactions may prevent a person from being able to receive the vaccine.
These include a severe allergic reaction or immediate allergic reaction of any severity after a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or any of its components. As well as a reaction to polysorbate (“due to potential cross-reactive hypersensitivity with the vaccine ingredient PEG”).
A few people said they are more concerned with getting the vaccine to at-risk individuals before they themselves get the vaccine. One student said, “I am not at a high risk of getting Covid-19. There are other people that need the vaccine more than I do.” There is a fear for some that getting the vaccine would “ take it away from someone who needs it.”
Ferguson says that these phases have been deliberately created with everyone in mind. Healthcare workers and people at high risk have been put into early phases for a reason. If you qualify for the vaccine during a phase it is in your best interest to get the vaccine.
The survey also asked if once vaccinated did you still plan to wear a mask. The majority of people once again said “Yes” with 134 (88.74%) and 17 (11.26%) said “No”.
It is in fact important to continue masking up after getting vaccinated because as Ferguson says, “someone who is vaccinated might be able to spread the virus to others who aren’t vaccinated.” Ferguson clarifies that “In other words, the vaccine is highly protective against becoming ill from the virus, but we need more data to know if it prevents one from spreading the virus.”
It is important to note that while educators can currently get the vaccine in phase 1B, this does not apply to college-level instructors. For students that may apply it would depend if you have pre-existing health conditions or if you are an essential worker.
Those able to register to get the vaccine in the Sauk Valley area fall under phase 1A and 1B of vaccine distribution. This includes adults age 65+, Healthcare workers, K-12 educators, and more. You can find more information on the phases and eligibility in Illinois by opening this document here.