By Ella Neve
Graphic By Sara Valbuena
As we are moving past the one year anniversary of COVID-19, the United States is finally starting to see some light at the end of a very long tunnel. Healthcare workers, first responders, and congregate settings began the vaccine process in December of 2020 (health.ri.gov). Since then, the US has successfully fully vaccinated 3,485,179 Americans (as of March 10th). This increasing number of vaccinated people includes not only nurses, doctors, firefighters, and government officials, but also anyone over the age of 75 in February, anyone between the ages of 74-65 in March, and anyone between the ages of 64-60 or any age person with specific underlying health conditions in April. The age ranges move down as each month passes; however, a bigger non-age related group that is receiving access to vaccines are essential workers. Many within the food and agriculture industry, education and childcare, critical manufacturing, and other community-based essential functions are now being granted access to the vaccine. This community of essential workers intersects with high school students working at essential businesses. This gives many Las Lomas students the opportunity to get vaccinated.
Kristina Mooney, a Las Lomas senior, works as a Swim Instructor for the Dewing Park Swim Club. She is 17 years old and received her first shot March 2 and her second shot March 23. Mooney’s job did not inform her of her opportunity to get the vaccine but her mom who is an educator did: “Getting the vaccine is unfortunately something you have to seek out on your own if you are eligible. It’s too difficult and costly to wait.” Mooney’s job requires her to be in the pool with young children who aren’t masked. Mooney added, “I’ll feel a lot safer being vaccinated and will be able to do my job more effectively.” As a teenager it is likely that Mooney would be one of the last groups to receive the vaccine, however with her job Mooney has become a perfect candidate to be vaccinated. “I think it’s important not to count us [teenagers] out if we get it when it’s appropriate.”
Matthew Madamba, a Las Lomas senior, works at Jamba Juice as a Team Member. Madamba recently turned 18 and as an essential worker does plan on getting the vaccine. His job did not introduce the vaccine to him however he wants it in order to, “decrease the spread as much as I can.” Madamba plans on waiting until more data is available for the vaccine before he signs up for his own vaccine but when asked about his overall thoughts he added, “I think that anything that stops the spread of COVID-19 is good, so if you have the opportunity to get vaccinated then you probably should.”
Sarah Zeiph, a Las Lomas junior, is a coach at Liberty Gymnastics. She is 16 and the vaccine was first introduced to her through her job. Zeiph would like to receive the vaccine as soon as possible but doesn’t currently have a date yet. When asked about her thoughts on teens getting the vaccine she commented, “I think teens getting the vaccine is great. As long as they put elders and higher risk people first.” As a gymnastics coach Zeiph works with younger children, typically masked, but within a nearby distance. “I want the vaccine because I want to feel protected from the virus and not worry about contracting it at work.”
As of March 11 the United States has given out 95.7 million vaccines, with 11.2 million of those vaccines being in California (Our World in Data). 10.02% of the US population is fully vaccinated, with a small part of that being essential workers in our own community (Our World in Data). As the light at the end of the tunnel draws closer, more hope comes for a return to some form of normalcy that our community yearns for.