By Lukas Carbone
Graphic By Susan Rahimi
In recent weeks, the vaccine rollout and eligibility, both throughout the nation and state but particularly in Contra Costa County, has expanded rapidly. Contra Costa County notably is one of the first counties in the state to expand eligibility to all residents 16 and older as of March 30. With this rollout expanding, a number of Las Lomas students, especially juniors and seniors, have now become eligible for the vaccine, either through this general eligibility or through more specific criteria, such as being immunocompromised or an essential worker.
For example, in a survey sent out to students, one anonymous senior, Student #1, who has received one but not two doses said that, “I scheduled my appointment mid-march and fit under the immunocompromised tier and was able to get my first vaccine when spring break started at DVC,” while another senior, Student #2, who filled out the survey said that they “made an appointment when the [County] made it available for all people 16 and older,” having also, at the time of the survey, received one but not two vaccine doses. Another senior, Student #3, stated that they, as a restaurant worker, “received [their] first dose on March 4th and second dose [on] March 25th.” All students quoted in this article have received two-dose vaccines rather than the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
With this vaccine rollout, some students, but not all, have shifted their behaviors in accordance with CDC guidelines which state that vaccinated individuals may resume certain activities, such as gathering with other vaccinated individuals, or one household of low-risk unvaccinated individuals, indoors. However, the CDC still advises caution in other areas, saying that fully-vaccinated individuals (defined as two weeks after receiving a full vaccination whether it be two-dose or single) should “keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.” Student #1 stated that they have “been feeling more safe in public and [I was] able to go to a friend’s house for the first time in a year last week since she was vaccinated too. Although, I think I will continue distance learning until graduation and keep social distancing and wearing masks in public.” However, Student #2 – who, like Student #1, has been partly-vaccinated – said that they have not yet made any changes to their behavior, and Student #3 described themselves as “still nauseous.”
Student #3’s side-effects were particularly noticeable – they said that they experienced “headaches, a lot of nausea, [was not] able to eat for a week after the second dose, chills, fever, [and] muscle pain.” Conversely, Student #1 and Student #2’s experiences when receiving the vaccine were much less drastic, but still noticeable. In particular, Student #1 said that they “[felt] no symptoms until a few hours after the shot– [but then] started feeling very tired, [and] the next day I had a lot of arm pain and had a fever that lasted about three to four days.” Student #2, meanwhile, said that they experienced “just soreness and arm pain.”