Do your part: Get vaccinated

Hannah Grillo, Contributing Writer

With much of our campus community newly eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, the choice to get the shot has never been more prevalent. There is a growing idea that the vaccine is a decision to be made through self-reflection; a personal, private choice. People love to quote “my body, my choice.” So why should our choice to get a shot be anyone else’s business?

To get personal, I have been employed as a nursing assistant for almost two years at a long term care facility, much of which has been during the coronavirus pandemic. I have watched as men and women cried on their deathbed because they have not seen their families in over a year. I have held up a phone for children to say goodbye to their parents for the last time. I have washed the dead bodies of COVID-19 victims, emaciated after weeks of not being able to eat. Yet, I consider myself lucky: I wasn’t praying over my mother’s dead body through the phone, my predominantly white community was not devastated and despite months of work on the front lines, I was healthy.

Believing the decision to get vaccinated is a purely personal decision is not only naïve, but inherently selfish. The growth of this perspective around campus is reflective of our “Bucknell bubble” mindset — that somehow our actions cannot and do not have far-reaching consequences, especially in at-risk communities. However, real-life consequences of COVID-19 are not simply limited to a two-week hotel stay; three million lives have been lost to this pandemic. The ability to look at the vaccine as only affecting you is equivalent to saying that the pandemic has only affected you. Deciding not to get the vaccine is not making a statement, it is a demonstration of indifference to vulnerable communities. Do not be blind to the destruction this pandemic has caused just because you have been privileged enough to not stare death in the face. 

We all have a choice, but it is not a personal one. Returning to normalcy requires us all doing our part to prevent both our own suffering and the suffering of others. We cannot wish for normal; we must work for it. Herd immunity has been scientifically and historically shown to be the only way to end a pandemic. It is how we ended polio, measles and mumps; it is how we will end the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t new science, despite what the conspiracy theorists may have you think. Nor are there any greater risks of these new vaccines than getting your flu vaccine every fall. Believing you do not need to contribute to the end of this pandemic is exactly the self-centered mindset that will prolong it. It is our duty to contribute to the health and well-being of our communities. So, while you certainly have a choice — it’s not just your body at stake. 

Visit https://vaccinatepa.org for help scheduling a vaccine appointment locally.

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