Students voice COVID-19 vaccine concerns

Calum Sullivan, Assistant Editor

According to Viterbo’s COVID-19 dashboard, 84.5% of its student population is currently fully vaccinated.  This week, the Lumen sat down for a conversation with two students who had chosen not to get the vaccine.  One student, who asked to be referred to as M, said she “view[s] it out of [her] own health.” M said that “as a young individual…seeing the statistics of the survival rate of COVID, I personally don’t see it necessary for my own health. Everyone should be able to make their own decisions and not be labeled as ‘vaccinated or not vaccinated.’”   

Another student, who asked to be referred to as G, offered other concerns, saying she originally planned to get the vaccine before coming back to school.  “However, being in a slightly isolated town with no easy access to any pharmacies or clinics made it difficult,” G said.  “As the summer went on, I had friends give me more and more reason for doubt– rumors about complications with the female reproductive system– [these doubts] gave me pause.”  G identified as politically neutral, and M declined to comment on political affiliation.   

Both students reported having gotten most other vaccines.  M cited the amount of research on vaccines like mumps and measles.  “My parents saw it fit with the many years of research and testing for those vaccines and they are extremely effective after many years of testing and use.”  M added that she would consider getting the vaccine in the future: “I would maybe consider getting the vaccine in the future, maybe in a couple years after more testing has been done and we know the long-term effects of the current vaccine. As the vaccine has only been around for about a year, we are unsure of the long-term effects that it could do to one’s body. I would rather wait and see than jump the gun and go into it guessing.”  As someone involved in student activities, G wants to leave masking behind.  “In order to do this we are encouraged, and in some cases required, to get vaccinated.”  G plans to get the vaccine soon.   

The students’ experiences with COVID differed.  While G said she has “not had anyone in my personal life test positive for COVID,” she said many of her family members are particularly careful of the virus due to health concerns.  M, on the other hand, has more intimate experience with the virus; she’s had COVID herself–twice.  “The first time last October and the second time this past September. After going through it twice, I see no need for the vaccine for myself as having COVID was nothing but a mere seasonal cold for me.”  Neither student has known someone who has lost their life to the virus.   

One question the Lumen was interested to investigate was vaccine mandates like President Biden’s executive order for federal workers.  “I believe each person has their own right to decide what vaccines they get or what they put into their body. Making someone choose between their job and their own personal health seems like a violation of human rights,” M said.  G said to her the “professional vaccine mandates make sense,” citing the desire to get out of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

For students who wish to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot, Viterbo’s Health Services has the Pfizer first, second, and booster shots available.