Editor’s note: With vaccinations in Michigan being made available since April 5 to everyone 16 and older, more students have been getting their shots. Jessie Warren is a junior rounding out her first semester as a staff writer for The Forest Hills Central High School student news site, “The Central Trend,” where this feature was originally published. With COVID spiking in Michigan, Jessie asked her fellow students why they chose to get vaccinated. Though her journey has been different than she imagined, she has found joy through sharing her writing with others and spending time with friends and family. She also enjoys flipping through film photos and exploring the halls of her Spotify curated playlists.
By Jessie Warren
On March 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services officially announced that all Michiganders 16 and older would be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. While the announcement brought anticipation and hope to much of the student body, junior Bella Long saw it as something slightly different: She would be forced to once again confront her deathly fear of needles.
For as long as she can remember, Bella has seen vaccinations as the bane of her existence. While she takes part to protect herself and the people around her, she cannot ensure she won’t get dizzy or lightheaded at the sight of the needle.
Nevertheless, when given the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, she could not turn it down. And upon arrival, she was immediately greeted by friendly faces ready to guide her through this new and nerve-racking process.
“The people there were honestly super great,” Bella said. “I went in and told them from the start that I was really nervous, and one of them was actually a pediatric nurse. So she was using little tactics that she uses on kids with me.”
By zoning out and listening to music during the actual poke, Bella was able to receive both shots of Pfizer without a hitch, making her fully vaccinated as of April 19. Being put on a list for work, she received the shot earlier than most teens, making her feel both lucky and proud of the initiative she was able to take.
Despite a sore arm and some fatigue the day after, she puts stock in the system, choosing to trust science and go with facts. And through this process, she has been able to see a glimmer on the horizon and grasp what life may indeed be like if everyone receives the vaccine.
“I personally got vaccinated for my oldest sister. She actually just had a baby a few days ago, and I’m very excited to meet her,” Bella said. “And also my parents are both high risk, and I was very grateful to be able to do this for them and give them a better quality of life and make them feel more comfortable.”
Doing it for Mom
Though he has yet to get his first dose, junior Tommy Rutherford is ecstatic to receive the Pfizer vaccine within the next couple of weeks. Though he strives for a return of normality and sees vaccination as the first step, he, like Bella, is receiving the poke to protect a loved one.
“I’m doing it for my mom,” said Tommy, who sees this sort of accountability as necessary. “She has multiple sclerosis, which is an underlying health condition.”
Tommy’s aim in receiving the vaccine is to prevent the spread, whether at home or with friends. He believes that while herd immunity can play a significant role, receiving the vaccine also funds into moving past this turbulent and volatile year.
On a personal or public level, nearly everyone has a reason to stop the spread. However, for senior Lily Campbell there are incentives at almost every turn. From her job at a retirement home to her involvement in tennis and her relationship with her grandparents, there are people all around her whom Lily could benefit by getting vaccinated.
‘I feel like if we all do something small, like getting vaccinated, it can help better our community.’— senior Lily Campbell
So on March 29 she headed off to receive her Pfizer vaccine, a process that she has now completed and couldn’t be happier about having participated. Despite a rough go of it after her second vaccine — experiencing the flu-like symptoms that can accompany the process — she has chosen to continue trusting logic in an attempt to return to life before the pandemic.
“I’m most looking forward to having a bunch of people over to my house once again,” said Lily, who strives to create a safe environment in which she can experience her senior year. “And I would really love a normal graduation party, (at least) as normal as possible.”
Giving the Gift of Vaccination
Lily’s main hope is that this rollout will pressure other members of the student body to get vaccinated, allowing everyone’s lives to return to the bliss of pre-COVID-19 life. Nevertheless, she also hopes that pressure is not what pushes people toward compassion.
In Lily’s eyes, vaccination is a gift back to all those who have risked their lives during this pandemic. By taking part in the process, we can ensure that empathy and kindness are paid to those who deserve it.
“I think it’s important for everyone to get vaccinated because it’s just something small that we can help our community (by doing),” Lily said. “It doesn’t take any money or any resources; it just takes time. And I feel like if we all do something small, like getting vaccinated, it can help better our community.
School News Network welcomes student writing submissions on various school-related topics at snn@kentisd. Entries must be preapproved by a faculty member at the school the student attends to be considered for publishing. Please include a phone number where the writer can be contacted.