Expansion of Vaccine Eligibility is the Right Move

The+coronavirus+vaccine+has+now+been+made+available+to+anyone+16%2B+in+many+states%2C+including+New+York.+%28Courtesy+of+Twitter%29

The coronavirus vaccine has now been made available to anyone 16+ in many states, including New York. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Jamison Rodgers, Contributing Writer

The pandemic has been a long, arduous journey for everyone. There is no doubt about it. Kids have been out of school, adults have lost their jobs, small businesses have been closed and what may sound silly and trivial in light of the above, college students have had a tough year academically and socially. The light at the end of the tunnel, as Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, likes to say, is the vaccine, which is now available to anyone 16+ in many states, including New York. 

Israel is an example for other countries to follow as the country was already vaccinating anyone over the age of 16 in February. The CDC has been saying for months that the only way to get back to normal is through herd immunity which is achieved through mass vaccination, so we should try to get as many shots in arms as possible. 

This is not to say that those who are at greater risk of developing severe symptoms from COVID-19 should not be considered when making the vaccine roll-out plan. However, the BBC reports that the U.S. has been rolling vaccines out since December 2020. We can not wait until everyone who is high risk has gotten the vaccine. If we want to reach herd immunity in a timely manner we have to do what Israel has been doing since February and vaccinate as many people as possible. 

Personally, this past academic year has been challenging to say the least. It is my first year of college and I have never taken a college class in an actual classroom.  However, a bigger challenge was that the social aspect of college was, in essence, taken away this year. There are rightfully many restrictions in place on campus, but this has made it difficult for dorm buildings to put on programs, subsequently making it difficult to meet other people living in your building. There are not many in-person classes and trying to connect with classmates in a Zoom setting is nearly impossible. The vaccine should be available to anyone 16+ if it means we can breathe a little easier while living in communal housing. 

The pandemic has not only wreaked havoc on the social aspect of college but has also negatively impacted college students’ mental health. In a study done by NIH, 71% of 195 participants said that their stress and anxiety have increased since the pandemic. This could be from the isolation on college campuses, the stress of taking a full load of college classes online or the anxiety that comes with living in communal housing during COVID-19. Whatever the cause may be, this is a serious issue. Mental health should be treated the same as physical health and if vaccines are the answer to alleviating this stress and anxiety then there is no reason to deny a vaccine to college students.  

College student vaccinations should be supported because while some students take the precautions seriously and do their best to stop the spread, others are not adhering to guidelines regarding social distancing and avoiding crowded areas. While this is a problem within itself, vaccinating college students would not only protect the campus they live on, but the community they are guests in. 

This past semester, in the colder months when our numbers were in the 200s and students were talking about what the university might do in response, including sending us home, there was not much talk about the effect the rise in our numbers had on the neighboring Bronx community. Students could leave campus if needed, but our neighbors in the Bronx live here permanently. Students should have been more careful about COVID-19 guidelines to begin with, as temporary guests in the Bronx, but vaccinating students would help to alleviate the rise in COVID-19 cases students caused in the surrounding neighborhood. 

If you are looking for a place to get a vaccination before going home for the summer, there are many sites close to Fordham as well as in the greater tri-state area. There are vaccines available on both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses, at the Walgreens and Urgent Care on East Fordham Road and many other sites. Make sure to register to get a vaccine before going home for the semester or at home over the summer. As of April 16, any student returning to campus in the fall is required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. There is hope for a more normal year next year to really enjoy all that Fordham has to offer.  

Jamison Rodgers, FCRH ’24, is an English major from Silver Spring, Md.