The Final Phases 

COVID-19 vaccines provide hope to many, ammunition to anti-vaxxer conspiracies

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Courtesy of HonorHealth

2ND TIMES A CHARM–Mr. Sheh receives his second COVID 19 vaccine Feb. 13 in Phoenix. “Aside from mild to moderate muscle soreness and chills, there were no severe reactions,” said Mr. Sheh. “By Monday, I felt right as rain.” Scott Menzel, superintendent of Scottsdale Unified School District, said many of the 2,100 SUSD teachers and staff received their second vaccinations the week of Feb. 12-14.

Katie Hofmann, Sports editor

Wake up. Log on. Take Attendance. Leave. Repeat 

This is the pattern many students at DM are facing right now. Sitting in front of a computer for four or more hours just to stare at a screen, not really processing much of anything. Students are promised an arrival back to school, only for it to be taken away a month later.

This is most likely the first time anyone has said “I can’t wait to go to school”. 

Yet there is a small hope in sight, with the arrival of the vaccine for COVID-19 in December of 2020; the fear of the virus seems to dissipating for the first time. While the prospect of vaccines are providing hope to many, they are also providing opportunities for conspiracy mongers.

The Facts

“Every time I open a patient’s file” said Amie Hofmann, who works at scheduling at the Mayo Hospital here in Scottsdale, “It almost always has the COVID[-19] warning on it”. 

For those who have not been closely affected by the virus, it can seem that the virus is being overplayed in a way. According to azbigmedia.com, there have been almost 5,000 COVID-19-related deaths just in the month of January. 

“Now with the vaccine coming” tells Hofmann, “The older patients and essential workers are able to receive their first rounds of vaccines”. 

Hospital workers like Hofmann have the opportunity to receive their vaccines, much like the elderly and essential workers, which includes all teachers. Scott Menzel, superintendent of Scottsdale Unified School District, said that after this weekend, “most of our staff will be receiving the 2nd dose of the vaccine”, according to his weekly update to the SUSD community.

“This brings the Community one more step closer to returning back to ‘normal’,” Menzel said in his update.

However, “It might be until March or the Summer until students and regular people receive their vaccinations,” Hofmann said. The Center for Disease Control has warned that masks and social distancing will remain important, even as more and more people are vaccinated.

“We have to get the most vulnerable portion of the population vaccinated before the younger people,” Hofmann said. 

‘I was dreading this moment’

DM sophomore Rachel Mattisinko was sent home for two weeks because someone she sat next to in one of her classes had been infected with COVID-19.

“I heard from one of my friends that a security guard was going through classes looking for me. But he was just trying to send me home because of COVID,” she said. 

“I was dreading this moment. I don’t prefer online classes, it is so easy for me to daze off into space and not care”. 

Even though Rachel, and others like her came back negative for the virus, they still have to stay home for the mandated two-week period. 

Some students reported that after being sent home, they noticed their grades slipping and their motivation fading. It takes a certain person to excel at online school, and some students admit to struggling. 

Teachers Picking Up the Cost

DM biology teacher Lucas Strohmeyer said vaccines will be a comfort, but not a cure-all, for teachers.

“I don’t believe that getting the vaccine will be mandatory to get for teachers this year, but I don’t know about next year,” Mr. Strohmeyer said. 

The government is picking up the cost for sick time,” said Lucas, “Teachers getting the vaccine in mass amounts would definitely reduce the possibility of going online for school any longer.”

However, he said teachers likely will remain cautious.

“Just because you have the vaccine,” Strohmeyer said, “soes not mean you can’t be a carrier of the virus, and therefore spread it to students”. 

There will always be a slight risk of contracting the virus by being in public, yet with the vaccine, more spaces will begin to open up again. 

Anti-vaxxers have their say

On January 31, 2021, anti vaccine protests blocked people from entering Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, California from receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Hundreds of cars were waiting in line for the vaccine as anti-vaccination protesters held up messages outside, CNN affiliate KCAL/KCBS reported. Video from the affiliate showed one sign that said, “LA Better Dodge The Vaxxx”; another read “Covid=Scam”. 

There have been many more protests like this across the country recently. And especially with the election, random conspiracy theories about the vaccines credibility have run rampant. 

According to Hopkins Hospital, “So far, none of the vaccine trials have reported any serious safety concerns. Trials for the first two vaccines — from Pfizer and Moderna — have had fully independent safety monitoring boards, and safety data are continuously reviewed by the FDA and expert panels”. 

There are symptoms of the vaccine. Like any other, people may feel some fatigue or arm pain; nevertheless, there has been a very small minority of the population that has reacted poorly to the vaccine, according to the CDC.

The Bright Side

DM principal Dr. Hirsch and other members of the SUSD administration have been working their hardest to make school safe for students. 

“The word mandatory is not something that Arizona has been known for as far as students entering schools with vaccines” says Dr. Hirsch, “While the language we share on the door of our nurse’s offices states: ‘no shots, no school‘ is commonplace, there are still means for parents to opt out with a waiver.”

Like almost any other vaccine, people cannot be forced to receive a shot, for personal, medical or religious reasons. 

“I do believe the Arizona Board of Ed will be very strong in Arizona with their requirements for teachers” says Hirsch.  

During this whole pandemic, many students have lost the option to participate in their sports, hobbies, and to even hang out with their friends like a regular teen does, yet DM students make do.

“The hardest thing is feeling disappointment–uncertainty and upset from students,” Hirsch said. “The funny thing is though, I also feel inspired by our students at DMHS who have for the most part taken lemons and done all that they can to make lemonade.”