Updates regarding the COVID-19 vaccine inspire hope and controversy


Isabella Nardis '24

There are updates regarding the vaccine and the idea of vaccine mandates.

Since January 2021, the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States has aided in combating coronavirus and facilitating the return of in-person events.  Scientists at Pfizer and Moderna have now introduced booster shots as an additional layer of protection against COVID-19. 

As of October 19, 2021, 77.9 percent of Connecticut’s population have received their first dose of the vaccine while 70 percent of people have received both doses.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all individuals aged 12 and above receive the COVID-19 vaccine.   Connecticut is currently tied with Rhode Island for the second-highest vaccination rate per population, according to ourworldindata.org

The Sacred Heart Greenwich Health Office has adjusted social distancing measures for the 2021 to 2022 school year in light of the new layer of protection the vaccine offers against COVID-19.  Overflow classrooms no longer exist, and students can now maintain three feet of distance as opposed to six.  Upper School students involved in the fall production of The Eumenides hope to perform on the stage again with a live audience instead of over Zoom.  Mrs. Heather Elken, Head Nurse, hopes to see continued progress by the spring of 2022. 

“We’re doing really well as a school.  I am very happy that without a mandate we are doing very well with our vaccinations,” Mrs. Elken said.  “With ongoing community support and with a majority of students vaccinated, we can hopefully move back to a new normal in the spring.”

A nurse holds a Moderna vaccine dose.  Courtesy of Mr. Win McNamee

For those who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and are above 18, the next step in the vaccination process is receiving a booster shot.  Recipients of the Pfizer vaccine cannot receive the booster shot until at least six months after their second dose, according to cdc.gov.  The CDC encourages adults from ages 50 to 64 with underlying conditions to receive a booster shot.  Additionally, people living in long-term care settings or working in a high-risk environment may receive their Pfizer booster shot, according to cdc.gov.

The Federal Drug Association (FDA) advisory panel endorsed the Moderna booster shot for people who are 65 and older, people ages 18 to 64 who have a risk of catching a severe case of COVID-19, and healthcare workers, according to statnews.com.

While vaccines are an important tool in combating COVID-19, uncertainties about the vaccine have grown over the past few months.  Select parents are hesitating to vaccinate their children as they feel that COVID-19 does not pose enough of a threat.  Throughout the United States, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital national poll on children’s health found that over half of parents with kids ages three to 11 said they were not likely to vaccinate their children, according to theatlantic.com.

More recently, vaccine mandates have sparked controversy.  States across the country are debating whether or not schools should mandate vaccines.  Specifically, California is the first state to mandate vaccines for school children.  The FDA granted emergency authorization of the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 12 to 15, and has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine for everyone who is 16 and older.  Once the vaccine is fully approved for kids 12 to 15, California will require students from the seventh grade to the twelfth grade to get the vaccine.  Similarly, once the FDA fully approves vaccines for children ages five to 11, California will require those students to receive the vaccine as well, according to cbsnews.com

People gather to protest a virtual hearing regarding schools requiring students to have one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  Courtesy of Ms. Sandy Huffaker

In Connecticut, Governor Ned Lamont announced that all state employees and staff in all childcare facilities and pre-K to 12 schools must have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27, according to portal.ct.gov.  Mr. Lamont is open to the idea of school districts having the ability to mandate the vaccine for students, according to ctinsider.com.  Connecticut has the highest COVID-19 vaccination rate for children.  Mr. Lamont took to Twitter to praise the state of Connecticut’s vaccine progress October 17.

“I’m proud of Connecticut for once again leading by example,” Mr. Lamont said.  “By having 80.2 percent of our kids vaccinated and covered, well above the 70.5 percent national average, we can ensure that a vast majority will remain healthy, safe, and in school where they have the most opportunity to thrive.”

Featured image by Isabella Nardis ’24