September 7, 2021
With the recent introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine, the city of Martinsville has become divided. It’s safe to say that each and every one of us has been impacted by the virus in one way or another. Everyone in Martinsville can agree on the negative effects the virus has left us. Despite the mutual agreement on this, the people of Martinsville are crossed with their different opinions on the vaccine.
The Food and Drug Administration initially approved the vaccine for emergency use only on December 11, 2020. On August 23, 2021, however, the FDA gave full U.S. approval of the Pfizer vaccine, now named Comirnaty. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain only approved under an emergency use authorization.
As of August 16th, 40% of Morgan County residents are fully vaccinated, according to Martinsville Reporter-Times. While this number is lower than the national average, the reasons for not getting the vaccine are similar. Some people believe the vaccine is unsafe because it had not been approved by the FDA when it was introduced. It is also commonly believed that there is not enough research to support the efficacy of the vaccine. Interviews with both staff and students at MHS offered a variety of thoughts and opinions about the vaccination.
“I can’t necessarily speak for other people because I do see all the different arguments that are out there and present… me personally, I chose to get it,” said English teacher Ms. Shea Rafferty about her thoughts on the Covid-19 vaccine. Most significantly, she chose to get the vaccination because her mother was in the high-risk category and she did not want to expose her to the virus. Losing her uncle from Covid-19 complications was also one of Mrs. Rafferty’s main motivators to get the vaccine. “We as a family made the decision that we wanted to protect all of us and protect our household,” she said.
Teacher and coach Mrs. Jennifer Cheatham shared her thoughts about the vaccine as well. “Everybody’s individual opinion and individual choice… it might be right for some and it may not be right for some.” She said being a mom, a teacher, and a coach has given her greater perspective and helped her see “all sides of it.”
While neither Mrs. Rafferty nor Mrs. Cheatham have tested positive for the virus, the same cannot be said for one of MHS’s new teachers, Miss Kelsey Patrick. The thought of contracting Covid-19 for a second time is what pushed her to get vaccinated. “I was trying to teach while having Covid, also at home. I was achey, I was running fevers, coughing, the worst of the worst.” It was not an experience she would like to relive.
On the other hand, librarian Kathy Ault had the virus and said she has had “colds that were worse.” When asked her thoughts about the vaccine, she replied, “I don’t think it’s been tested enough.” Janitor Bob Kern shared a similar opinion. “It may be a little early to put as much trust in it as we are,” he claims. As it turns out, these two views are commonly held by students as well.
Freshman Ava Hess said, “At this stage, I wouldn’t say it’s the safest thing to get right now since it’s not FDA approved.”
Sophomore Tyler Terrell said “I’d rather wait a few years before I get it. It’s not that I believe weird things like a lot of conspiracy theorists believe. I just want to wait until long-term side effects come out.”
“There’s not enough information about the long-term effects,” another MHS sophomore said. Some students can see a middle ground between all the controversy. Senior Emma Gonzales said, “There are pros and cons towards it; it could have a little bit more testing on it because it kind of got out really fast…it’s good but it could be better.”
Although there are students who may be doubting whether getting the Covid-19 vaccine is a good idea, others have a more positive outlook. Sophomore Destiny Shrake said, “I think it’s really smart…I feel like it’s the right thing to do.” Destiny included that having seen everything happen this year led her to this idea. “So many people have gotten hurt or died, lost family members, just so much pain,” she explained. She believes teachers and students getting vaccinated could be a huge step in moving forward.
While opinions regarding the Covid-19 vaccine may vary, respect and tolerance of viewpoints – even those that differ from our own – is essential in moving forward. As Ava Hess said, “I don’t have a problem with anyone if they decide to get it or not because that’s their choice and I respect that.”