By David Montenegro
The introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine brought some needed optimism for the new year. As of the time of publication, U.S. regulators authorized two pharmaceutical companies, Pzier and Moderna, to manufacture and mass distribute their vaccines to U.S. citizens, each having respectfully a 90% and 95% effectiveness rate. Health experts say that 70% of the United States population will need to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. The World Health Organization predicts that most countries would have achieved herd immunity by 2022. This means that everyone, including Babson students, will have to continue practicing social distancing and other methods of preventing the spread of the virus probably for the next two years.
Since the introduction of the vaccine, there has been some skepticism over its safety. Time Magazine says that concerns over its unwanted side effects, the rush for approving the vaccine, and general misinformation led to many Americans, at most 40%, saying they don’t intend on taking the vaccine.
The revelations are worrisome and are part of a larger trend of growing distrust in our public institutions, at least in the United States. Public confidence in health experts is crucial during these times in order to mitigate the virus’ effects and finally return life back to normal. But if people are hesitant to take the vaccine and fall for disinformation, it will only prolong the pandemic and herd immunity will not be reached for quite a while. But there is already some hope. The Time Magazine article confidently states skepticism of the vaccine will diminish as more people become vaccinated and continue to have good health. Therefore, we should expect an increase in the number of people who will intend on taking the vaccine.
The Babson Free Press created an anonymous Instagram story poll on Thursday January 7th to have an idea of the student body’s opinion on this issue. One question asked: “Will you take the COVID-19 vaccine?” The three possible answers were: Yes, No, and Unsure Yet.
A total of 117 students responded:
Yes: 89 (77%)
No: 7 (6%)
Unsure: 20 (17%)
77% of Babson students say they will take the vaccine, which is 17% higher than the national average.
There has been discussions among employers and other institutions requiring their employees and members to be vaccinated at some point. Some schools are already looking into imposing such requirements for students and faculties in the months ahead.
On the same anonymous Instagram story poll, the Free Press asked: “In the future, should Babson College require ALL students to take the COVID-19 vaccine?” The three possible answers were: Yes, No, and Unsure Yet.
A total of 106 students responded:
Yes: 66 (62%)
No: 20 (19%)
Unsure: 20 (19%)
62% of Babson students believe that Babson College, at some point in the future, should require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before attending. Students already need to be vaccinated against a multiple of other viruses and diseases prior to entering campus.
The purpose of polling Babson students is to get the school’s general opinion on this subject and to engage with our audience. The results are just estimates of how the student body may feel, but one shortcoming is that we were not able to poll students who did not use Instagram. Regardless, the results show that a majority of students are confident in the vaccine and will take it in the future. A good portion of the student body would like to see the school require their students and faculty to be vaccinated in the future. The positive results were expected as favorment towards the vaccine is correlated with people who attend(ed) higher education, according to the previously mentioned Times Magazine article.
Some students decided to elaborate on their choice for the previous two questions. Since we stated this was an anonymous poll, we won’t be identifying the students who commented. In addition, little grammatical edits will be made and will be shown as is.
Student #1: “The vaccine is brand new and we do not want the long term effects. Many people react diff”
Student #2: “Not everyone should take the vaccine for herd immunization”
Student #3: “Private college, therefore they have the right. Keeps us safe. We must trust the science.”
Student #4: “I do not believe the vaccine is not stable enough and there might be side effects.”
Student #5: “Idk long term effects -will take it when comfortable. I make my own healthcare decisions.”
Student #6: “Taking the vaccine must be a collective movement in order for it to really protect our communities. So I would take it not only because I believe in science but also cause I care.”
Student #7: “I prefer to get back to normal as soon as possible”
Student #8: “There are lot of side effects of this vaccine that we don’t know yet [b]ecause there are no trials [sic] that have proved that the vaccine can stop this virus”
Student #9: “For the safety of my peers and [I]”
Student #10:“The vaccine is safe and slows/stops the spread of Covid”
Student #11: “A vaccine approved for emergency use only should not be required for all students”
Student #12: “The vaccine still is risky to take”
Student #13: “So that we can return to how college was and is supposed to be.”
Student #14: “Vaccines are only effective if everybody partakes. Babson should invest in vaccines”
Vaccine safety is always a number one priority among scientists, doctors, state leaders, and the public at large. Having a conversation and being transparent with those concerned about the vaccine is key if you want people to be confident about the potential it has to end the pandemic once and for all. Concerns should be addressed, and disinformation and conspiracies created on purpose should be responded with actual facts and data. Most importantly, people who are skeptical of the vaccine should not be shamed; instead, everything should be done to understand them and then respect their decision for the time being. The purpose of herd immunity is to prevent the virus from infecting those who were not vaccinated, usually the ones who have a medical condition, and it will ultimately protect those who were hesitant.