OPRF students welcome vaccines with open arms

Vaccine eligibility in Illinois has opened up to everyone age 12 and above, and OPRF students have been getting COVID-19 vaccines.

The Village of Oak Park’s website reported that 24,689 residents of Oak Park have been fully vaccinated and 28,443 “have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine”. (The data given is from May 17 and earlier.)

On April 28, a vaccination clinic was held at the Oak Park Public Works Center for Oak Park residents, as well as those who go to school in Oak Park. A priority was given to 16 and 17-year-old students, and it was a walk-in event. 88 Pfizer doses were given, not all of them to OPRF students, Erik Jacobsen, the Village of Oak Park’s communications & social media manager, said. Due to limited supply, some were turned away. Jacobsen noted that those who received these vaccinations were scheduled to receive their second doses on May 19.

OPRF Senior Meghann Spillane was “really excited” and “relieved” when she found out she was eligible for the COVID vaccine. However, “I was a tiny bit nervous just because I’ve been hearing about possible reactions,” she said.

“My mom found me an appointment on the Walgreens website, and we clicked the first one that was available.” Spillane got both of her vaccines in downtown Chicago. “It was so easy, there was no wait.”

“They took me to a little tiny room”, where Spillane got the vaccine; she says it “didn’t hurt at all.” She stayed there for about 15 minutes (to make sure she had no immediate reactions) and later experienced arm pain “as if it was the flu shot” but no other side effects.

Spillane says getting the vaccine “was a no-brainer for” her. “I have severe asthma, so I have been really, honestly scared that if I get it, I will have a really bad case of it,” she said. “I know how it feels to not be able to breathe.” Additionally, Spillane and her grandparents are “really, really close” and seeing them “was a priority”.

Charlie Ader is an OPRF junior who has gotten both doses.

“A lot of the places seemed to be pretty booked up,” Ader said, “but I was super excited once we finally found a place” to get the vaccine. He got it at a CVS in Riverdale “because there was barely any availability around us.”

“I feel safer being able to go into work,” said Ader, who is a tutor. “Hopefully I’ll be able to see the kids in person at some point.”

“It’s nice to be able to feel a little more comfortable going to a restaurant” and not being quite as cautious around friends, Ader said.

The CDC states fully vaccinated people “can resume activities that (they) did prior to the pandemic” and do not need to wear a mask or practice social distancing. The exception is where these measures are still required by “laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

The guidance also says no testing or quarantine is required before or after domestic travel. However, the CDC recommends that international travelers “pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the United States”, and the guidelines are not as lenient with international travel. Travellers “need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the United States.”

The guidance may not apply to people with certain medical conditions or on certain medications. To be considered fully vaccinated means it has been two weeks since your second dose (or your single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

While K-12 schools are currently recommended to “continue to use the current COVID-19 prevention strategies”, the CDC will release “updated guidance” which “can inform school planning for the” next school year.

Currently, in Illinois, all residents aged 12 and up are eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID vaccine. (Everybody 16 and up became eligible on April 12; the Pfizer vaccine received Emergency Use Authorization for ages 12-15 on May 10. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are only approved for ages 18 and up.)

“The Oak Park Health Department encourages eligible high school students to take the first vaccine appointment they can find. Students… may be able to find appointments to receive the Pfizer vaccine through Cook County, the Illinois Vaccine Locator website, local pharmacies or through their doctor or healthcare provider,” Jacobsen said. Some vaccination sites are also accepting walk-ins.

Additionally, there is an upcoming Pfizer vaccine clinic taking place Sat., May 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m in OPRF’s field house. The Oak Park Public Health Department, in partnership with Walgreens, will be hosting the event, which is for anybody 12 and up, as well as another clinic on June 12 (same place and time) where the same people can get their second dose. To schedule an appointment, click this link: http://www.wagsoutreach.com/ss/OAK669885