Masks, the Vaccines, and the Path Back to Normal

Cristian Soto

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, a return to in-person school, and falling infection rates, it seems like the worst of the pandemic is behind us. However, there are still people who have not been vaccinated yet. I interviewed a West student who has not yet been vaccinated, and gathered information on where to get vaccinated and what COVID-19 vaccine does to your body.

Back in April of this year, the CDC (Centers faor Disease Control and Prevention) announced that people who have been fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks in places that don’t require them. Although some states do not have school mask mandates, in the Salt Lake City School District, masks are required for students and administration regardless of vaccination status. West High is also encouraging its students to get vaccinated.

I interviewed with a West High Student who has not been vaccinated yet to ask him why he has not received the vaccine:

Q: Is there a reason why you’re not vaccinated?

A: I have no ride and no person to take me to the nearest Walmart or Walgreens.

Q: Do you not trust the vaccine?

A: I do trust it, [it] will help me feel better [and] keep me from getting [COVID] and dying.

Q: Have you been wearing a mask everywhere you go?

A: Yes, I have. I wear it everywhere I go except home.

Q: When do you think you’ll get vaccinated?

A: Soon, maybe a couple weeks. 2-3 weeks if I have the time or somebody to take me.

Q: Do you know where?

A: Probably Walgreens or Walmart.

Q: Are you scared of the symptoms of the vaccine?

A: No. [I’ve heard] it’s kind of like having the flu, so I’m not worried about the symptoms.

Q: Have you heard any information about the vaccine that made you not want to get it?

A: No, I have heard a couple, but I don’t really believe [any of] it.

If you also want to get the vaccine but aren’t sure where to go, I have information for you. Many places in Utah offer the vaccine completely free of charge, with only an appointment needed to get the shot. One of the locations that you can visit is Smith’s Food and Drugstore. Every Smith’s location offers the vaccine. One store close to West is the Smith’s at 1174 W 600 N, Salt Lake City, UT. You could also visit the website, where you can look up vaccine centers near you and see them displayed on a map. With proof of your appointment confirmation, you can use UTA services such as Trax and buses to get to your appointment for free. Some rideshare apps also offer free rides to vaccine appointments.

After taking the vaccine, you may experience a variety of side effects. Right after the shot, your arm may become numb or sore. The next day, you may experience a headache, a runny nose, or cold symptoms. However, you’ll feel as good as new 2-3 days later. If you’re worried about getting the vaccine, remember that its side effects aren’t too extreme.

A few weeks ago, the CDC authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11. This will allow more of the population to get vaccinated. Its authorization also proves that the vaccine is safe to use, despite rumors that may say otherwise. Over the coming months, I encourage you to get the vaccine and continue to wear a masks. If everyone does their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we’ll eventually return to normal.