After eligibility expanded to Hoosiers 16 and up Wednesday, IU students say they’re glad to have the opportunity to get vaccinated and shared how they hope IU will handle the pandemic following increased vaccination.
Many IU students began scheduling their vaccines Wednesday at various locations across the state, such as CVS, Kroger, IU Health and IU’s Assembly Hall.
Sophomore Shannon Master said he’s ready to not be scared of the coronavirus anymore.
“I’ll feel more comfortable just getting to be with people, which will be so good for my mental health because I miss just getting to be around people,” he said.
He said waiting for the vaccine to open up to his age group was challenging. He’s been worried about his immunocompromised friends, who are young but still more susceptible to the virus than others without health issues, he said.
While he’s been concerned about how rapidly the vaccine was developed, he said he knows studies have been done to prove its safety, and still plans to get vaccinated even with some reservations.
Holcomb also announced March 23 that Indiana’s mask mandate will end April 6. Masks will then be only advisory, although individual cities and counties can still mandate them if they choose. Mayor John Hamilton said in a COVID-19 press conference Monroe County will keep its social gathering restrictions and mask mandate despite the statewide lift.
Master said he thinks lifting the statewide mandate is dangerous.
“People who aren’t going to follow the mandate are always going to be there, but removing the mandate just lets people who were on the fence about it, or who were only doing it because it’s a mandate, it kind of gives them an excuse not to do it anymore,” he said.
Junior Thomas Rainbolt said he had trouble getting a vaccine appointment. He said he stayed up past midnight Wednesday morning trying to schedule one at Kroger for about two hours, refreshing the webpage so much he triggered the bot detector system. Finally, he got an appointment at Assembly Hall using in.gov.
“I was physically shaking by the end of it all,” Rainbolt said. “It was so, so stressful.”
He said he’s confident in his decision to get the vaccine, however. His best friend has an immunodeficiency, and he said he’s hoping to see her when she returns to IU in the fall.
While IU President Michael McRobbie said public health policies such as mitigation testing for some students are expected to continue in the fall, IU has not yet said whether it will mandate the vaccine. However, IU recently announced students who report proof of full vaccination won’t be required to quarantine if identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and Dr. Aaron Caroll said they will no longer be selected for mitigation testing.
Rainbolt said he’d be surprised if IU didn’t require the vaccine. He also said he’ll continue to wear a mask as long as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it or until herd immunity is reached in the U.S.
“Everyone has certain freedoms.I don’t think that the freedom to do an action that could potentially lead to someone else’s being sent to the hospital or dying.” Rainbolt said. “I think that’s a little beyond the pale of what I would consider freedom.”
Senior Michelle Zou said she received her second dose of the vaccine Wednesday morning. She was able to get vaccinated earlier than others her age since she works at a clinical IU research lab. She said she hasn’t had issues with side effects from either dose, and her anxiety about contracting COVID-19 has lessened.
“I still social distance and try to keep everybody safe, but it has helped me personally reduce the anxiety that I get from COVID scares,” Zou said.
Zou said getting vaccines as a kid and doing research about the vaccine played into her decision to get it. She said while she knows there’s been negative viewpoints and hesitation about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, she’s never experienced it.
“I was pretty excited,” Zou said. “After the vaccine I felt more peace of mind.”