Just four semesters ago, we were on campus as normal without a clue of how drastically life was about to change. Then in March of 2020, students walked out of their classrooms for Spring Break and never truly returned. Now, 17 months into that extended Spring Break our medical resources have advanced and we can better protect ourselves and the community. 

In the last 30 days, there have been a total of over 39 million cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. When talking about the death total, way more than one life too many has been taken.  

But there’s some good news: 74.4 percent of adults in the U.S. have had at least one vaccination done by the CDC.  

Why is this good news? Well, there are multiple reasons.  

All the vaccines work in relatively the same. They leave your body with a memory of how to fight off the virus in the future. It typically takes only a few weeks for the body to reproduce the lymphocytes that can fight off the virus, according to the CDC. 

Even if you’ve already had COVID, you should still get the vaccine if you can. Studies show that unvaccinated people who have already had COVID-19 are still more than two times as likely to get the virus again compared to those who are full vaccinated, according to the CDC. 

The vaccine not only benefits you, but it benefits those around you. Getting the vaccine helps slow the spread of the virus, according to the CDC. Studies showed substantial reductions in the number of symptomatic and asymptomatic because of the vaccine. This will lead to lower transmission numbers in the U.S. 

The most evident benefit of getting the vaccine is that two weeks after your final shot you can go back to doing most of the things that you could do before the pandemic. 

If you can get the vaccine, you should, not only to keep the death rate down, but most importantly, to protect yourself and the people around you.   

In the age of technology and instant knowledge we are in now, there are several false claims, as well as misinformation, circulating. It is because of these factors that some people are not fully on board with getting the vaccine. To find more reliable information than a screenshot on social media, you can go to the CDC, Kansas Department of Health and Education, Lyon County Public Health and the Student Wellness Center. 

Some may be concerned that the vaccine is unsafe because of how quickly it was developed. Yes, it was ready to go quickly but that’s because we didn’t have time to waste. The pharmaceutical companies that made the vaccine invested a significant amount of resources into the vaccines. For example, the Pfizer vaccine was studied in about 43,000 people, according to the Mayo Clinic. Not only was a safety review done by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization also created a panel of vaccine safety experts to evaluate the data.  

So, the vaccine was created quickly, but also went through the necessary screening to make sure it’s safe. 

Another concern people may have is about the side effects. Only 15 percent of people who received the Pfizer vaccine had short-lived symptoms, according to the CDC. 50 percent developed headaches, chills, fatigue, muscle pain or fevers. Keep in mind, though, that this is your body learning how to fight the virus for the future. These are also common responses to vaccines and are normal, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

In addition to worrying about the symptoms in general, some think that more people die from the side effects of the vaccine than would the virus itself. The numbers are actually being skewed here. COVID-19 is almost 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu, according to the Mayo Clinic; the flu kills 12,000-61,000 people per year in the U.S., according to the CDC. The math is unsettling and shows how important getting the vaccine is. 

People need real information and real statistics to help them fully understand how they can benefit from the vaccine. Getting the vaccine will help better protect ourselves and the community. 

The vaxxtonormal campaign is one way that the university is reaching out to its students, faculty, and staff to encourage them to get vaccinated.  

Ten names were drawn in the first round of prizes, and then ten more names will be drawn Oct. 8 along with an additional ten names for those who will be rewarded the grand prize of a $3,500 scholarship. Additionally, there is a guaranteed $250 scholarship for every student who submits their vaccine card before Oct. 4.

Along with students getting scholarships, employees can get their own fair share of money. Employees get $300 added to their paychecks for being vaccinated. It will be paid out in November. 

The program is federally funded through the COVID-19 funding, which allows ESU to further help its students. 

Most of us want to return to life as it was before. We want to be able to attend concerts, go on vacations and enter a university building without having to put on a mask. Masks obscure smiles, remind us of our bad breath and can be stuffy. The solution to this is one or two quick sticks in the arm, depending on the vaccine. It’s simple and brings us one step closer to a life free from this pandemic. 

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