For many students, getting vaccinated is an important step in getting back to normal. The Pfizer vaccine was approved for teenagers 16 and older on March 31 with parent or guardian approval, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines remain only accessible for those who are 18 and older. This means that many of our students are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID.

But, with the vaccination, there comes a risk of possible side effects, which happened with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine recently. 

“I did have some side effects. My arm was sore for a while, and I had some headaches,” Hospice Nurse Karen Lopez said. “My chest also hurt for a day after my second dose, and I could not work.”

Lopez has been in direct contact with those who have had Covid, and while she did have side effects, she also expressed that she feels safer with the vaccine and recommends receiving it.

“I feel okay with the Covid vaccine, it helps me do my job, and I recommend if you can get it, you probably should,” Lopez said.

It is still being discussed whether those under 16 will get the vaccine anytime soon or if it will have any negative health effects. For now, Collier County Public Schools is not requiring the vaccine.

“At this time, Covid vaccinations are not required for students or staff,” Jennifer Kupiec, Specialist in Communications & Community Engagement, said.

The threshold for herd immunity and when it will be reached is also unknown. 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that we are still learning how many people must be vaccinated before most people can be considered protected,” Breanna Johnson, the Public Informations Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Collier County, said.

Although only those 16 and above can be vaccinated, it will provide many benefits for schools or individuals. 

“COVID-19 vaccines teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19,” Johnson said. “These vaccines will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get [it].”