By MELISSA SANDOVAL and ARINE GALE GARIN
As the COVID-19 death toll and case numbers continue to rise, the race for a vaccine is entering the final stage of clinical trials. If approved by the FDA, vaccine distribution could become widely available as early as December 2020 through Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) starting with high-risk populations, individuals who are prone to infections, and healthcare workers.
From there it will be available to the general public, including Amarillo College students and staff.
As the development of the vaccine advances, students are debating whether or not they will take the vaccine. Some say the vaccine should be required for enrollment, while others feel it should be optional.
“Since students are currently doing school online, they shouldn’t be required to take the vaccine when it’s available,” said Ehler Paw, a general studies major. “The virus hasn’t died down and we still need to practice social distancing.” Paw also said that she doesn’t think it should be required to go to school and that it should only be for those that are or have been affected.
“If students wish to not take the vaccine then they have the alternative of being an online student,” said Leslie Martinez, a criminal justice major. “Although I do believe that it should be a required shot for both staff and students that go on campus.” Martinez also said that she would encourage people to take the vaccine to increase the safety of others, but she believes that in the end, it’s still their choice to make.
“I think students should take the COVID vaccine when it comes out because it’ll be better for everybody overall,” said Brenda Landeros, a physical therapy major. “And those who are more at risk of getting COVID won’t have to worry about it anymore when they go back to school.” Landeros also said that if students took the COVID-19 vaccine, it’ll help with the process of getting students back on campus and learning in the classrooms since many students like herself are currently struggling with their courses online.
“I feel like the COV-ID vaccine should be required like the meningitis shot because it’ll help in reducing cases and overall help with returning things back to normal,” she said.
The companies Pfizer and BioNTech are working together on vaccine development and have reported that the vaccine is 95% effective.
The vaccine focuses on the use of the genetic molecule called RNA. RNA transfers genetic information from the nucleus (DNA) to the cell (proteins) for use. Pfizer uses our RNA to create a viral protein, causing an immune response from our body to make antibodies.
As the general public waits for the vaccine, standard precautions to minimize transmission of COVID-19 are still encouraged through wearing masks, hand hygiene and social distancing.