Boise State students share their thoughts on the COVID vaccine

Safeway pharmacist Ashley McGee fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccination at a vaccination booster shot clinic on Oct. 1, 2021 in San Rafael, California.
Photo courtesy of Justin Sullivan

As cases have risen yet again in a predominantly red state, many Idahoans are conflicted about the vaccine. 

A recent study conducted by U.S. News shows that, as of January, Idaho has the fourth-lowest vaccination rate in the country with approximately 59.3% of its population vaccinated.

Many residents have explained that they’re worried about the quickness of the vaccine production in terms of short and long-term side effects. Misinformation is also a huge contributor to vaccine decisions. However, the Idaho Statesman wrote that the recent hesitancy to vaccines in Idaho is unprecedented. 

Safeway pharmacist Ashley McGee fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccination at a vaccination booster shot clinic on Oct. 1, 2021 in San Rafael, California.
[Photo of Safeway pharmacist Ashley McGee filling a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 booster vaccination at a vaccination booster shot clinic on Oct. 1, 2021 in San Rafael, California.]
Photo courtesy of Justin Sullivan

Surprisingly enough, the newly booming city of Boise, which is known for its more liberal outlooks, is not necessarily leading Idaho for vaccination. Certain neighborhoods are, but Ada County is just over 50% completed vaccinations. . The new boom to Boise is largely inspired by its local campus population at Boise State, in which students are fighting a similar battle with vaccination decisions. 

The university conducted a voluntary survey towards the end of 2021 in hope of collecting information of vaccination statuses on campus. The university’s website showed that out of the 51% of the campus’ population that responded, 88% showed they had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

A recent article in the Statesman reports that the university’s football team showed similarly promising vaccination rates, with almost 85% of players vaccinated. 

However, due to the ongoing controversy the vaccination holds, there are greatly differing opinions walking around campus. 

When asked how the college campus has affected her decision on the vaccine, senior nursing major Lauren Sunada had a positive take.

“I think overall there is a positive attitude surrounding vaccination on campus. I’m in the nursing program, and it is extremely important for the school of nursing to be vaccinated for clinical rotations,” Sundada said.

However, second-year marketing major Kylie Welker shared that her vaccination decisions were not affected by campus at all. 

Welker instead believes that campus should be promoting views on overall health such as eating and working out. Welker says that they’re just as important as promoting the vaccine. 

It’s no secret that the rise of COVID-19 and the actions towards combating the disease have been heavily affected by the political turmoil in recent years. 

“My vaccine decisions are far more related to my values than to my politics. I really don’t care what politicians have to say about it, and place more importance on how my decisions will affect those around me, as well as listening to health professionals around the nation,” sophomore kinesiology major Lucas Caballero said.

Sunada had similar views to Caballero. 

“My vaccination decisions are related to morals, science and public health and nothing more,” Sunada said. 

Sophomore and mechanical engineering major, Reid Digman, explained that his decision to get vaccinated was largely based on his family being immunocompromised.  

However, as the only unvaccinated student out of the many interviewees, Welker explained her decision was based on multiple contributing factors.

“While I was doing my research I found that more people die from the flu, so why not promote the flu vaccine the way they promote the COVID vaccine?” Welker said. “The [COVID] vaccine came out too quickly in my opinion, and they won’t be releasing data about the long-term studies on it for 80 something years.” 

Welker’s concern about the length of research behind the vaccines are a commonly held misconception behind vaccine hesitancy. 

According to John Hopkins Medicine, COVID-19 is thought to be 10 times higher in mortality rates compared to the flu. Just as misinformation is hitting Idaho as a whole, the student population is largely affected as well. 

However, Welker explained that her decision was not based on political views. 

“Both political sides promote the vaccine in some way. I think each individual should do their own research and decide for themselves if they want to get the vaccine,” Welker said.

Many jobs are now requiring proof of vaccination which has led to concerns regarding vaccination decisions. 

Caballero was the only one who briefly touched on the fact that being vaccinated might make his job hunt easier in the future.

“I’m fine with getting vaccinated, so I don’t believe it will affect my future in any extreme ways. It may be easier to find jobs just because I won’t have to give them a reason why I’m not vaccinated,” Caballero said. 

Several events and activities also require proof of vaccination, ranging from eating out to music festivals — although this is certainly less common in Idaho than in other states. 

For example, Boise’s annual Treefort Festival requires either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for its 2022 events. 

When students were asked how their vaccination decisions will affect their future, there was a surprising lack of urgency and rather a general concern for feeling safer within their social life on and off campus. 

Digman explained he feels much more secure being social in that he hopefully won’t be spreading the disease to others. 

“I feel much more protected and willing to participate in social activities knowing that I am vaccinated and much more of the student body is as well,” Sunada said.

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