By Theran Galisa | Staff Writer
With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming available for anyone 16 years or older in Hawai‘i on April 19, millions of U.S. citizens have already taken the initiative to get vaccinated. More than 189,000,000 vaccines were already administered in the United States alone, according to the CDC, in hopes of gaining herd immunity for the country.
However, with college students just days away from being eligible here in Hawaii, some were divided in their responses to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Personally, I am not opposed to the vaccine in general, but I myself wouldn’t get it,” said KapCC student Sam Owens.
People who have had past allergic reactions to vaccines are urged to consult their doctor on whether they are eligible to get vaccinated.
“I reacted bad to two vaccines in the past. I got the swine flu vaccine, and I had to get hospitalized because I got such a bad fever,” said 20-year old Owens, who is majoring in Communications. “I got the shot, went home, that night I got so sick I had to go to the hospital the next morning.”
Owens said, “If I didn’t have bad reactions I would get it.”
Some schools, like Rutgers University in New Jersey and Syracuse University in New York, have already announced that a vaccination will be mandatory to attend in-person classes in the fall. KapCC and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa have yet to do so.
“I would get it, just so I can feel safer about going back to school in person,” said 21-year-old KapCC student Hanalei Akazawa, who is majoring in EMT.
Others disagree with forcing college students to get vaccinated to attend in-person classes.
“I feel like it shouldn’t be mandatory,” said Owens. “I feel like you have the right to choose whether or not, and you just have to trust people to be responsible.”
In a Carnegie Mellon survey that collected 18 million responses since April 2020, 27% of people who are against the COVID-19 vaccine say that they don’t want to take it because they don’t trust the government.
“You need to do your research, not through social media like Instagram,” said Owens. “I have three people in my household who are vaccinated who are completely healthy.”
More than 560,000 vaccinations have been given to Hawai‘i citizens according to The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, making Hawai‘i the seventh-highest vaccination rated state in the United States.
O’ahu is currently in Phase 1c of people who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. This group of people include individuals over 60 years of age, health care workers, first responders, education workers, retail, and other essential workers.
“At this point in time it is what it is already,” said Akazawa. “If they (KapCC) made it mandatory, I would take it. Before I didn’t want to do it and after a while of thinking about it, I would take it now.”
“I was hesitant to take it at first,” Akazawa said. “The long-term [effects] is unknown, I believe; the short term is proven to work.”
The COVID-19 vaccine was produced in less than a year, and because of the speed of this, some people think that it won’t work properly. The research and moderation done by the United States Food and Drug Administration on Pfizer and Moderna claims that the vaccines are 95% effective.
“I felt like since it was rushed I didn’t want to take it at first,” Akazawa said. “I don’t really do any research on it. I just play it by ear.”
Vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are FDA authorized under an emergency use authorization. EUA is how the FDA allows medical products to be approved on an accelerated timeline in a health crisis. It is up to the FDA to determine if the benefits of the dose outweighs the the possible risks.
“By all means I am totally for it; I just have that little sense of hesitation,” said 20-year-old UHM student Kai Akemi, a Public Health major. “I was hesitant because it came out so fast and you don’t really know how it’s going to be in the long run.”
The COVID-19 vaccine essentially teaches our immune systems how to fight against COVID-19. It takes about 2 weeks for the body to build an immunity against the virus that causes COVID-19.
“I’ll take it since it’s probably the best thing to do right now,” said Akemi. “Especially since I work in the public, so I interact with a lot people every day, and it’s probably best to keep safe and keep other people safe too.” Akemi works at a retail store in Ala Moana.
Campuses all over the country have been struggling to stay open over the last year due to fraternities, sororities and off-campus parties creating sudden spikes of COVID-19.
Akemi was scheduled to receive her first COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, and she is hoping other students at KapCC do the same.
“College students can be really selfish sometimes and party,” Akemi said. “I think I would be more OK with going back to school with people who are vaccinated rather than having a bunch of people who aren’t.”