Posted on: September 5, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Joey Fernandez

Joseph Montaganl (left), who is not a Moraine student, along with Moraine science majors Abraham Jaramill and Kevin Szypulinski, take advantage of a vaccine clinic on campus.

By JRN 111 Students

Moraine Valley students had mixed reactions last week to a new mandate requiring all higher education students and employees in Illinois to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. JB Pritzker issued the mandate Aug. 26 in response to a surge in COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates across the state.

“The vast majority of hospitalizations, as well as cases and deaths, are among those who are unvaccinated,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in a news release from the governor’s office. “This has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” 

This has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezika, IDPH director

As Moraine Valley administrators scrambled to put the new requirements in place at the college, several students expressed their support for the mandate.

“I believe people should be vaccinated. It will help keep everyone safe,” said Mariella Gracia, a freshman whose major is undecided.

“COVID affected everyone, especially immigrants and lower income people,” said Selina Ammari, a freshman science major. “In order to live a normal life, we need to have it.”

Freshman Victoria Templin had a personal reason for supporting the new health measures: “My grandma passed away to COVID before the vaccine came out.”

“I think that the vaccine is trying to make everybody safe,” said Emely Porras, a sophomore majoring in elementary education. “Everyone in my family got vaccinated due to having younger siblings and my mom being compromised.” 

Some students have been waiting for a specific reason to get vaccinated.

“I never had something personally against the vaccine or people who had it,” said Megan Fields, who is studying psychology. “I was just waiting to get it on my own time, when I was ready to or when it felt necessary to.”

Zakiyah Echols, a business student who is not vaccinated said, “I just want to see how it affects people’s health at first. I feel like they came up with it too fast.”

As of last week, 374 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been given in the United States, according to the website Our World in Data. Worldwide, the number is 5.49 billion. In Illinois, 51. 6 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Just get it. A lot of people make it seem like such a big issue, but it’s just like the flu shot. Just get it.”

Kevin Szypulinski, science major

On Aug. 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer vaccine for people 16 and older.

“I didn’t really go into it being scared at all,” Esmeralda Sopena, a second-year nursing student said after receiving her shot at Moraine’s vaccine clinic on Aug. 26. “I felt like I did my research myself. Especially from being a nursing student, I needed to make sure I was protected from this virus.”

But not everyone felt the same way. Hadel Harb, a four-year nursing student, said she was always “on the fence” and only got the vaccine because it was mandatory for the nursing program.

Other students felt people should not be forced to be vaccinated.

“I think its dumb,” said Anna Caldera, a freshman majoring in elementary education.  “I don’t think people should be forced to get a vaccine for in-person class.” She said the vaccine is “pointless” because “anyone can still get COVID, vaccinated or not.”

Freshman computer science major Ali Hakawati agreed: “It is their right to get the vaccine or not, they should not be forced.”

“I wasn’t sure about getting the vaccine, but now it feels it’s required, like they are going to force you?” said freshman biology major Nada Razek. “I just feel everything will become complicated if I do not get it.”

Freshman Diana Bucio said, “Everyone should have a choice.”

Everyone should have a choice.”

Diane Bucio, freshman

Under the mandate, students and employees who are unable or unwilling to get the vaccine must get tested for COVID-19 once per week. The testing requirement also brought mixed reactions from students,

“I think weekly testing is more than fair,” said sophomore Lindsey Kusturin. “Everyone is just trying to keep it as safe of an environment as possible.

“Personally, if I was unvaccinated I would just stick to all online classes because the only way I would not be vaccinated is if I had a medical reason not to be,” she said.

Templin said she is in favor of more testing: “Twice a week testing is better especially if it is rapid tests.”

But Mariella Gracia, a freshman whose major is undecided, said though she is in favor of the vaccine mandate, she doesn’t think it’s necessary for people who aren’t yet vaccinated to get tested at least once a week.

Just before news of the mandate came out, some students already were taking advantage of a vaccine clinic being offered on campus. Additional vaccine clinics are being offered on Tuesday and again on Sept. 28, from 4-8 p.m. in the M building.

“Just get it,” said Kevin Szypulinksi, a second-year science transfer who took advantage of the clinic on Aug. 26. “A lot of people make it seem like such a big issue, but it’s just like the flu shot. Just get it.”

Ethan Holesha and JRN 111 students Marisa Bresnahan, Marcus Collins, Connor Dore, Rosie Finnegan, Colin Kroll, Anais Rangel and Nick Stulga contributed to this report.