Back To Normal? Not Quite Yet

Some Students Remain Vaccine Hesitant

Kayla Blanton, Reporter

     After more than a  year of hybrid and virtual learning, students were back in person at full capacity this school year. The once barren halls and lunchrooms are now bustling with students talking, laughing and going about their days. But not everything is quite back to normal.

     While the school district requires all students and staff to wear masks indoors until the end of December, COVID-19 vaccinations are not required. One after another, students are still quarantined, awaiting results or infected with COVID-19 

     “I don’t feel safe,” senior Brenna Schuett said. “Even though most of the kids here are vaccinated, there are still ones that don’t wear their masks, or have it under their nose or below their chin.”

      Schuett said her mother is immunocompromised, and potentially contracting COVID on top of her already-present health problems could take a serious toll on her. She said that even though her mother is fully vaccinated herself, her body at this point won’t accept the booster shot which leaves her vulnerable.

     Some students and parents are wary of the side effects the COVID-19 vaccine might cause. Conspiracy theories and rumors circulate online, and some people don’t know what to believe, so they remain unvaccinated.  With the vaccine being developed on a timeline that some considered too fast, that added another level of hesitation. 

     “The vaccine seems very rushed and put together in a short period of time,” junior Jake Swafford said.

     While he’s unvaccinated, he said he is not against the idea of getting one, but he doesn’t fully trust it.  

     “With how many people have been vaccinated so far, my trust in it has gone up a bit,” Swafford said. 

With how many people have been vaccinated so far, my trust in it has gone up a bit.”

— Jake Swafford, 11

     

     While there are vaccine mandates across the country, not everyone is calling for one in Missouri.   

     “If the school were to implement a vaccine mandate, then I would be upset and feel as if my rights are being violated,” Swafford said. 

     Not all students feel it would be a violation.

     “I think it would be great to have it,” Schuett said. “Especially with how many kids we have in the building, but there are going to be a lot of protests.” 

      Stowers Institute of Medical Research is one of many research facilities that aided in the fight against the virus. The institute’s head of Genome Engineering Kym Delventhl manipulates and creates DNA and RNA (ribonucleic acid) which is one of the key ingredients in the vaccine. 

     “People often call it the cousin to DNA,” Delventhl said.

     Some vaccine-hesitant people are concerned with the speed at which the vaccine was released, but Delventhl said that should not be much of a concern because the technology was already there, and the methods they used to create the vaccine were already available. She said it fell into place to create the vaccine quickly. Using RNA, a DNA sample of the virus was created, and it took a small piece of it to create the vaccine. 

     “That short piece of RNA molecule basically codes for a small piece of the spike protein on the virus,” Delventhl said. “So when you see a picture of the coronavirus on the news, it always has these little spikey things on it. And so the vaccine just has a little piece of RNA that sort of makes a bit of that little spike, and it goes into our cells.”

     She said cells make a “little piece of spike,” it’s not the whole virus, it’s just a little bit. 

     “And so our bodies can then make antibodies against that, and that helps us,” Delventhl said. “Then if we see that virus in the future, our body knows to fight that off.” 

        Now with the Omicron and Delta variant in the air, things are unclear on what life will look like in the upcoming months.

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