Although the vaccination is not currently available to all Western Illinois University students, many students have been thinking heavily about whether or not they will take the vaccine when it becomes available. Additionally, some students who are healthcare workers have already taken advantage of their opportunity to get vaccinated. One of these students was junior health services management major Maille Francis, who works as a frontline healthcare worker at a physical therapy facility. Francis said, “I was super nervous and skeptical about getting the vaccine at first, but now that I have it, I feel like I am not only protecting myself from the virus, but I’m protecting those around me from getting it as well.” Francis was previously infected with symptomatic COVID-19 in September, but the medical community is recommending that people who have previously had COVID-19 still be vaccinated to prevent becoming infected again. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the vaccine is currently available to frontline essential workers, which includes employees of schools, hospitals, care facilities and more. It is also available to adult individuals over 65 years of age. The current vaccines available in the United States are Pfizer and Moderna, but it is likely that more vaccine options will be available in the future as more companies continue to develop vaccines. Francis received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. She says, “even though I am fully vaccinated, I am still going to wear my mask.”
Another Western Illinois University who received the COVID-19 vaccine is senior elementary education major Katlynn Davis. Davis was eligible for vaccination because she is serving as an essential worker through student teaching in the Chicago suburbs this semester. In regards to receiving her first dose, Davis said: “I’ve had my first dose, and I’m just happy to be a part of the solution. I’m so hopeful that we will be able to go back to normal soon, or at least a new normal.” Davis’s response demonstrates a likely motivator for many students who choose to get vaccinated: the hope of returning to a more normal lifestyle.
In a world where COVID-19 impacts nearly every aspect of students’ lives, the conversation about the vaccine is at the forefront of many students’ minds. As students make the decision whether or not to get vaccinated, many factors will be considered. The skeptical feeling that Francis described is shared by many with the emergence of new medical advancements, and many students may be fearful to receive a vaccine that is so new. However, the tipping point in her decision to ultimately get vaccinated was driven by the desire to protect herself and her family and friends. For Davis, the primary motivator was to help be part of the overall global solution, in hopes that many will get vaccinated to develop herd immunity. As the vaccine becomes more readily available, each student will have to weigh their own pros and cons about receiving the vaccine, as there are many emotions, medical considerations, personal factors and global considerations that will influence this decision.