Student body herd immunity

Almost like a badge of honor, you receive this sticker when you’re fully vaccinated. There’s a lot of mixed emotions about the medicine and research behind it, but millions of people are running to normalcy as fast as they can -- including Leesville. (Photo courtesy of Ellie Bruno)

Moderna, Pfizer, J&J. These three companies made history by developing the COVID-19 vaccine in record time. Since their emergency approval from the FDA, 190 million doses have been given (as of Sunday 11) across the US, North Carolina sporting 5.71 million doses (as of Sunday 11).

I was curious as to how many 16+ students here at Leesville felt about it all. Realistically, I couldn’t get a large enough sample size to make broad assumptions about the student body as a whole, but I sent out a survey to get a general idea of how Leesville feels about getting vaccinated. 

The Big Three

Out of the fifty responses I got, I was able to identify three major groups of students — those who were eager to be vaccinated, those who are hesitant but got it anyway, and those who refuse to get vaccinated for varying reasons. 


When Moderna and Pfizer released their vaccines, Pfizer’s medicine was available for people as young as 16, while Moderna’s only available for 18+. As a result, the majority of students who have been vaccinated got the Pfizer vaccine. There is still a lot of doubt circling throughout the globe regarding the safety of this medicine, and it shows in the survey responses. 

31 out of the 50 students surveyed received the Pfizer vaccine. The sample space, ranging from sophomores to seniors, is the target population for Pfizer’s vaccine. That doesn’t null any concern however, as many students expressed concerns about the validity of the research. 

Conspiracies, rumors, and misinformation ran rampant at the vaccine’s debuts. The historical speed of development left the public in doubt for months. The sheer lack of clinical trials continues to baffle the public, leaving mistrust in the science behind the medicine. Luckily though, those who received the vaccine reported minimal side effects (if any at all), and were mostly satisfied with the results. 


Four responses came back with the Moderna vaccine. Available only to 18+ year-olds, it’s easy to see that Moderna was less favorable among high schoolers. Nonetheless, students had minor concerns about the vaccine itself. 

Moderna published their findings from their extensive clinical trials, including the different side effects and the population that encountered them. The most common symptoms are common across most vaccines — soreness, swelling at the injection sight, lightheadedness — with rare but severe reactions less likely to occur. Nevertheless, the vaccine was proven effective and is a fantastic option for those 18 and up. 


Like the Modera vaccine, J&J is only available for 18+, explaining why only two responses came back with it. A lot of people wanted J&J because it’s a one-dose no problem vaccine, while the other options require two doses. Through their extensive research, they also received emergency approval from the FDA, but a recent setback is raising a lot of concern. 

A rare side effect is putting the rollout on hold, with severe blood clots occuring in a handful of vaccinated people. The cases are currently under review, and until a conclusion is met, the J&J distribution will be put on pause. 

Vaccination nightmare?

The remaining surveys showed students unwilling to get vaccinated. Whether it be misinformation, lack of clinical trials (compared to other trusted vaccines), or rumors and conspiracies, these numbers vary across the whole country — not just at Leesville. 

Social media is a likely suspect for the massive spread of this misinformation. Rumors spread like wildfire across heated platforms like Twitter, so it’s easy to see how a viral tweet can become a mindset. It further plays on the public’s distrust in the media, almost like we can’t believe in anything we hear or see. 

The sheer newness of the illness, vaccines, and lifestyle we had to adapt to is also another contributing factor. So much changed so suddenly in the course of a few months, it’s no wonder why people are skeptical. However, there is science to back these vaccines up. They may not be perfect, but right now they are the best option we have to return to normal. 

I encourage everyone to put the time into researching the vaccines, the masks, the social distancing, and look at these precautions with a bit of optimism. Instead of fearing for the worst, why not imagine the best outcome — getting out of this pandemic stronger than ever.


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