As COVID cases start to slowly increase and new variants continue to emerge, the FDA has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine that will arrive just in time for seasonal flu shots, according to a New York Times article. The article said the FDA and other federal officials have preferred to refer to this new booster shot as “an annual immunization effort akin to the flu vaccine.”
“I don't particularly think that it's too much to worry about,” said Sincere McCoy, a junior psychology major. “Frankly, I don't think this country can afford to worry about another pandemic let alone quarantine because that really hit us in the pockets back when it first happened, but you know, understandably, nobody saw it coming.”
McCoy said he does not believe that the slight increase in cases would be “as big a deal as it was when it first hit,” which is where he thought “it had peaked.”
“People have so much to worry about,” he said. “I think at the end of the day it could be handled accordingly, whether it's washing your hands or doing things like that.”
McCoy added he would be open to getting the new COVID vaccine, but he also believes people should have the choice on whether or not they want to get this vaccine, similar to how “people have the choice on whether they want to get a flu shot or not.”
“Not to sound like an anti-vaxxer, but I think people ought to have the choice on whether they want to get stuff like that,” he said. “When it comes to vaccines given at birth that shield us from diseases that were sweeping entire countries back in like the 1800-1900s, that's a different story, but stuff like this, it's like we ought to have a choice aside from the government constantly trying to come down on us.”
Meghna Thomas, a senior psychology major who is in pre-med and the B.S./M.D. program, said she is concerned with the rising cases and finds it “frustrating to see that it's still something that we have to take precaution.”
“I work in a hospital, so I've seen the impact that this is having on patients,” Thomas said. “Every week there's new cases and it's definitely alarming because we have so much new medical technology and education and awareness, but even then it's hard to sometimes counteract the virus and the threats that it poses to health. So, it's definitely something that we need to be cautious of.”
Thomas said the virus had “always been on her radar” as it had affected her loved ones.
“I recognize that there's also a psychological element of it,” she said. “I think that COVID has just been a huge part of my mindset, even coming into Seton Hall with being aware of the virus and the impact it's had emotionally, mentally, and physically on my friends and my family.”
Despite being concerned about the increase in cases, Thomas said that we are better equipped to handle the virus than we were a few years ago.
“I think we've learned a lot over the past two years,” she said. “And so, even though the new variant is very concerning, I'm sure that now we're better equipped than ever to be able to handle the challenges that our community’s facing.”
She also said she was “really happy about the action that Seton Hall has taken and the preventative measures against the spread of the virus.”
Thomas added she would also take the new vaccine as an extra measure to be able to protect the patients she works with, most of whom she said have “frail immunocompromised health,” and to protect those around her as well.
“My number one priority and belief is that the actions I take impact others, and that's something that I'll never really compromise, especially as an aspiring doctor,” she said. “I really care about the health of my community.”
“I know this can be a delicate issue and there's a lot of people who have different cultural backgrounds and beliefs,” she continued, “While I think everyone should have the choice to choose what they believe is best, at the end of the day, we do have a responsibility when it comes to the health of those around us, and that's something that we shouldn't take lightly,” she said.
Jodiann Morgan, a senior special education elementary major, said she is “not shocked” that COVID cases started to increase and that new variants continue to emerge.
“I believe that things have to happen for the world to realize that life is literally not in our hands, because you can literally be alive today and dead tomorrow, God forbid,” Morgan said. “But it's obviously showing that life here is not forever.”
Morgan said that COVID does not cross her mind anymore compared to when the pandemic began in 2020.
“I don't think about it at all actually,” she said. “I kind of adjust to the climate of what we have to do because of school purposes or I work in a hospital so you know, that's a big one as well.”
Although COVID does not cross her mind, Morgan added she is still open to the idea of wearing masks if she needs to keep others safe.
Morgan also said that she believes everyone should have the right to choose to get the vaccine or not, and she said she thinks it’s not fair that people are oftentimes forced to get the COVID-19 vaccines or else they risk losing their jobs.
“I feel like people have to force themselves to take something all because they feel like they can't provide, or the government has convinced them that they can't provide in any other way,” she said. “It’s either you take it, or you'll lose this.”
Morgan added that she is not planning on getting the new vaccine.
Seton Hall University plans to establish vaccination sites for the new vaccine in the fall, according to Dr. Monica Burnette, Vice President of Student Services.
“Health Services will partner with Walgreens again to hold vaccination clinics for the flu vaccine and new COVID booster shot this fall,” said Burnette.
Burnette, who is a member of the university’s Health Intervention and Communication Team, said the vaccination sites will be held on Oct. 11 and Nov. 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Orange campus.
Rachel Suazo can be reached at email@example.com