Vaccines at Wheaton North
By: Haanya Quadri
As the Coronavirus Pandemic approaches its one-year anniversary in the US, it is easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccine distribution has started, and despite a few hiccups along the way, about four percent of the American population is currently vaccinated. Certain groups, such as elderly people, healthcare workers, and those with pre-existing conditions are getting priority because of their increased risk of infection. Along with these groups come, teachers, because they come into contact with hundreds of students and staff members each day.
I had the chance to speak with a couple of Wheaton North teachers, Mrs. Smith and Mr. Kennedy, about their experience getting vaccinated through District 200. Both initially had trouble finding a place where they could get the vaccine; Mrs. Smith remembered the stress that the search for a vaccine-induced, as she could not find any appointments until the district reached out, while Mr. Kennedy commented, “I had applied and registered for a vaccine in multiple places: the county where I live, DuPage county, the University I am attending grad school, and the district. To my surprise, I was able to get an appointment first through the district!” The district had set up a Google form that teachers could use to sign up for their vaccines. Because of the low supply, the district had to restrict the number of staff recipients to 200, which, Mrs. Smith remarked, “sounds like a lot, but is not that many… think of all the teachers in elementary schools, middle schools, and even South.” She speculated that the district will get teachers vaccinated in batches on a first-come, first-serve basis because many teachers who filled out the form later did not get an initial appointment. The district has a plan in place for when vaccines are released from the Illinois Department of Public Health, and it will expedite the release of those vaccines to staff as soon as they become available. This week, Bower Elementary School became a vaccine site.
Both Mr. Kennedy and Mrs. Smith mentioned the ease and speed of actually getting the vaccine. Once their response to the form had been processed, they set up an appointment to get vaccinated. Both teachers went to a COVID clinic in Downers Grove, where Mr. Kennedy said he “wrapped up with the process in less than 15 minutes.” However, Mrs. Smith reported lots of pain at the injection site, saying that “it felt like someone had punched me,” while Mr. Kennedy described it as merely “a small prick of the needle.” Mrs. Smith and Mr. Kennedy were excited once they finally got the vaccine, and Mr. Kennedy “celebrated with a Grilled Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Chick-Fil-A!”
As far as vaccinations for students go, the state of the matter is still unclear. Very few students have been vaccinated, as most are young and healthy (except those who work high-risk jobs or have pre-existing health conditions, as aforementioned). Additionally, the Moderna vaccine has only been approved for people eighteen years of age and older, while the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people sixteen years of age and older, allowing only older students to get vaccinated. However, things are still looking up for younger students: the vaccines produced by AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson may be approved for kids in the coming weeks. In the meantime, it is imperative that as many teachers as possible get their vaccines. With the majority of the staff vaccinated, the number of COVID cases will surely decrease, both at Wheaton North and at schools across the nation.