South community gets vaccinated

Tori Appel and Daniel Park

Through partnerships with Passport Health and Holy Family Pharmacy, South students and families received free doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel said.

The first dose of vaccines were distributed in South’s East cafeteria in two sessions by Holy Family Pharmacy on May 17 and 21, and three sessions by Passport Health on May 14, 21 and next Friday. This opportunity was available for all South students and family members ages 12 and older, Fagel said. Since South offered vaccines to staff and community members earlier this year, the student vaccination programs were more efficient this time around, Fagel explained.

“We’re pretty good at this [process] now because we [already offered vaccines] for elderly people in the community,” Fagel said. “[The vaccination programs were] easier because people [were] more mobile.

With 2,720 spots offered by Passport Health and 992 spots offered by Holy Family Pharmacy, District 225 ensured that South provided appointments for any student and family members who wanted to receive the Pfizer vaccine, Fagel said.

“No student [was] turned away,” Fagel said. “There [was] plenty of room [for anyone who wanted to get the vaccine].”

Sophomore Sydney O’Hara signed up for the Passport Health program because of its practicality. Her appointment fit into her school schedule, making her vaccination process convenient.

“It seemed very accessible to take it at school because I [do] in-person [learning],” O’Hara said. “It [was] nice to go in during lunch, get my shot and go about my day.”

Sophomore George Kunnel was eager to jump at this opportunity. South’s vaccination program provided a way to help create a safe environment at South, Kunnel said.

“As long as other people around us are trying to get vaccinated, I’ll feel a lot safer,” Kunnel said.

As someone with pre-existing medical conditions, getting the Covid-19 vaccine was a top priority to Kunnel.

“This is something that [is] personally helpful for me because I have other medical conditions,” Kunnel said. “If I were to get Covid-19, it would affect me in large ways.”

Julie Shellard, South’s head nurse, noted that it is important to consult a healthcare provider before receiving the Covid-19 vaccine. Although she encourages most to get the vaccine, she explained that people with specific medical conditions are not recommended to take it. Nevertheless, Shellard emphasized that for those who are approved by their doctor to take the vaccine, there are very few disadvantages, besides potential side effects and the possibility of being allergic to the solution—a risk present in any new substance that enters the body.

“The most important thing is that you have to talk to your healthcare provider,” Shellard said. “You don’t want to walk into it blindly, especially if you have a medical history, since there is a risk that you [might] be allergic [to the vaccine]. [Other] than that, I don’t see anything negative against getting it, other than [that] you might [have side effects].”

Fagel is hopeful that with more students and family members getting vaccinated, everyone is just a little bit closer to returning back to normal.

“I’m excited for the kids and their families who signed up,” Fagel said. “Every vaccination to me is like a step towards normalcy.”