COVID vaccine sparks debate amongst Boise State students

With millions of people receiving the COVID vaccine nationwide, the notion of whether or not people want the vaccine has sparked debate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Idaho, 382,219 people have received one or more doses as of March 23, 2021, totaling 17.1% of Idaho’s population.

According to Boise State Public Radio, a survey was conducted of 1,000 Idahoans and concluded that 38% of the survey takers do not want to receive the COVID vaccine. 51% of survey takers identified as Republicans, 27% identified as Democrats, while 13% identified as Independent. 

Michelle Ehlke, a junior radiology major, has received both doses of the COVID vaccine. Elke says her side effects after receiving both doses were minimal and experienced mostly exhaustion.

Since Ehlke is majoring in radiology, a lot of her time is spent with other students working in hospitals with patients who have COVID, which is why she felt the need to get the vaccine. 

“Especially for us, we’re working in hospitals, so we’re around a lot of COVID patients. First and foremost, we’re protecting ourselves against it because we are around so many people,” Ehlke said. “I also think young people like myself are choosing to get the vaccine because we are so ready for our life to get back to normal. We want to do our part to help the eradication of COVID so that someday we might get back to some normalcy.”

[Photo of a COVID-19 vaccination record card.]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

According to Ehlke, the radiology program at Boise State advocated for students to get vaccinated and in-turn, were able to work with local hospitals and offer the COVID vaccine to students working in clinicals, but the vaccine is not mandatory. 

Makenna Relkoff, a junior marketing major, is skeptical about the COVID vaccine and is concerned the COVID vaccine will become mandatory, which she does not approve of. Relkoff is also concerned about the impact on fertility after receiving the vaccine.

“One of my biggest concerns with the vaccine is that the impacts on fertility aren’t known yet,” Relkoff said. 

Relkoff is also concerned with societal pressure to get the vaccine and believes the two companies distributing the vaccine, Moderna and Pfizer, should be held responsible for any deaths or side effects that may occur after receiving the COVID vaccine. 

“I just think that the social pressure [to be vaccinated] is what I’m not a huge fan of as well. Moderna and Pfizer, I’ve read a lot about it, aren’t being held responsible for any side effects of the vaccine,” Relkoff said. “With most vaccines, the company is held reliable for [side effects]. Basically, they’re not going to be held accountable for any deaths or mishaps that will happen if you get the vaccine. It’s kind of a scary thought because who knows what this vaccine is capable of?”

According to the CDC, side effects of the COVID vaccine administered by Pfizer and Moderna include headache, chills, fever, muscle and joint pain, and pain in place of injection. Since writing the article, another company has begun distributing the vaccine, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen. According to the CDC, side effects of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine may include headache, tiredness, chills, fever, nausea and muscle pain.

Overall, Relkoff believes people shouldn’t judge others for the decisions people make in their lives, particularly when it comes to getting the COVID vaccine or not. 

“I know a lot of things are very dividing these days. I just think our generation needs to remember that we still shouldn’t judge others. Others still don’t like being judged, so your personal decision on what you chose to do or don’t do in your life don’t necessarily mean you’re a terrible person or you’re a wonderful person,” Relkoff said. “We’re all still human, and we all still just want to feel like we have some control over ourselves and our lives right now, especially in the time of COVID.” 

Isabella Birnie, a senior science and public health major, is in favor of the COVID vaccine and any other precautions the public can take to diminish positive COVID cases. 

Brinie has not had the chance to receive the first round of the COVID vaccine but plans to get it as soon as she can. 

“I think the best option we have to minimize total cases, total deaths, and to keep our society running and get back to quote-on-quote ‘normal,’ is to do all of the above: social distancing, wearing masks, but definitely getting vaccinated,” Birnie said. 

Birnie has mixed feelings about how the vaccination is being handled but is hesitant to judge the system because she ultimately believes society is progressing with the introduction of the COVID vaccine.

“It’s hard to fault the roll-out because it is getting done. But on such a national level with only two companies providing the vaccination, it’s really hard to do so in a way that would be more effective,” Birnie said. “Really, it’s hard for me to say anything negative about it because it’s happening, and the most at-risk populations are getting vaccinated.”
For up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccinations in Idaho, visit Idaho’s Official Resources for the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) website.

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