On April 6, anyone over the age of 16 who lives, works or attends school in New York became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Previous eligibility rules, tied to medical conditions and employment risks, did not encompass the entire Fordham student body. Under the new rules, all Fordham students are eligible to get vaccinated.
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: All students should get the COVID-19 vaccine. With the expanded eligibility rules, there is no reason not to get vaccinated. The vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are safe and effective. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, both approved for use, are roughly 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 infection. Their quick development and nationwide availability offer a glimpse of hope for eliminating COVID-19 and returning to normal.
If you’re concerned about vaccine safety, you’re not alone. But right now, we need to trust the experts in the FDA. They authorized the vaccines for emergency use after examining data from scientific trials; the “emergency” label does not mean the process was haphazard or rushed. Safety concerns continue even after initial approval. On April 13, the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paused the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution out of an abundance of caution. Out of the 7 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, six experienced a blood-clotting disorder. Despite being a small fraction of the total vaccine recipients, they chose to avoid risking lives.
The speed of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout isn’t concerning — it’s impressive. The vaccines are a testament to modern science and worldwide collaboration. COVID-19 has dominated our lives for the past year, and the search for a vaccine has likewise dominated science research. The first vaccine was approved for use in the U.S. barely one year after the first COVID-19 case. Less than a year and a half after the first case, the FDA currently approves two vaccines for nationwide emergency use. More importantly, those vaccines are now available to all adults in most U.S. states, including New York.
While the vaccines are a light at the end of the tunnel, we have to recognize that we are still in the tunnel. The end of the pandemic is closer than ever, but it’s not over. Cases continue to climb, patients check into hospitals and people die. COVID-19 still poses a major risk, and we must continue to take precautions even as vaccines become widely available. The existence of vaccines is not a justification for behaving irresponsibly.
Medical experts echo Fordham’s insistence that we continue to wear masks and practice social distancing. The vaccines do not reach their full effectiveness until two weeks after the second dose. Since the majority of us became eligible for our first doses one week ago, the Fordham community is far from herd immunity. We need to continue protecting ourselves while students make their appointments and receive their shots. It’s also important to remember that no vaccine is 100% effective — a 95% efficacy rate is incredible, but it leaves 5% of recipients vulnerable. We share a duty to prevent infection and stop the spread of COVID-19; right now, that means we need to take other precautions in addition to getting vaccinated.
Since all Fordham students are now eligible, nothing should stop you from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Get an appointment as soon as you can. The university has a limited number of vaccine doses available at both campuses, and you can schedule an appointment online. Doctor Urgent Medical Care on Fordham Road now accepts walk-in appointments. We’ve struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic for the past year, and vaccination is our best shot at reaching its end.