By Arianna Tabankin
We were nearing the 10th month of the coronavirus pandemic. As the cases rose more and more and the death toll creeped upward, hopes for an eventual end had practically diminished. The measures put in place to control the virus were generally ineffective. Additionally, people around the country still refused to follow COVID safety guidelines by not wearing masks or practicing social distancing. Therefore, it was very difficult to be optimistic. But then, just as we had begun to lose all hope, an astounding development emerged that lit the light at the end of the tunnel: a vaccine.
Since December of 2020, the coronavirus vaccine has been distributed globally, and the number of those vaccinated has steadily increased since then. The parameters for those eligible have widened further as more people received the vaccine; and now, teachers can be vaccinated as well. This is an incredible achievement because teachers can now feel more safe and secure in a classroom setting. Hopefully, this also means virtual learning will dwindle down and students can finally return to the classroom!
Mr. Horowitz, a chemistry teacher at Byram Hills, said that he was “more excited than anything else” to receive this vaccine, and understandably so. Out of all of the preventative measures involved in this pandemic – masks, social distancing, testing, etc – a vaccine is the most secure. It provides the greatest protection and defense towards this virus, and in-person teachers benefit from such strong security immensely.
Furthermore, a COVID-19 vaccine is not only a source of protection, but also a source of hope. Dr. Matthew, a BHHS science research teacher, mentioned that “everyone just seems to be happy to be able to be doing this – both the getting and the giving of the vaccine – it is our way out of this awful situation.” This optimistic view of the pandemic, or more specifically an end to the pandemic, has amounted solely because of the vaccine. No other development or control measure has shown nearly as much promise and success as the vaccine. Because each day, as over 1.6 million individuals are vaccinated (npr.org), we are that much closer to bringing this pandemic to an end once and for all.
Receiving this vaccine also extends beyond individual benefit. If enough people become vaccinated, herd immunity can be reached. This would protect even those who are unable to receive the vaccine. For certain people, the vaccine can be potentially harmful due to specific allergies and/or pre-existing conditions. Thus, through herd immunity, these individuals can rely on others being vaccinated to protect themselves. When you receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you afford protection to others, not just yourself. Math teacher Mr. Lewick said that he felt like he was “just doing my duty for society” when he got the vaccine, which is certainly true.
Still, there are many question marks surrounding this vaccine. Specifically, we are unsure of the potential side effects, if and for how long the vaccine provides long-term protection, and if the vaccine can defend against all strains of the virus. Nonetheless, the vaccine is without a doubt the single most effective measure of controlling the pandemic. Finally, we can confidently say that an end looms near.