New Vaccine Guidelines Make the Transition to a Normal Life Easier

Daniel Morrison, STAFF WRITER

    Across the nation and in Florida, expanding eligibility for the Covid-19 vaccine has started to pave the way for a return to normalcy. 

   Floridians 65 and older and first responders have been receiving the vaccine since December. However, under the new state guidelines, teachers and staff, daycare workers, firefighters, and first responders over the age of 50 now qualify for the vaccine. Federal guidelines, on the other hand, have allowed certain pharmacies across the state to administer the vaccine to school educators and childcare providers of all ages (NBC).

      A jubilant Sunshine Phelps, an English teacher here at charter, became teary-eyed reading an email about this news from the administration. “I immediately began making my appointments for the two doses,” she said. “And this is the first time I have ever looked so forward to getting a shot before.” She received her first dose on March 6th and awaits the second dose scheduled for a later date. 

      Not all vaccines require two doses. In fact, the recently released Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one. The vaccine, specifically authorized for those over the age of 18, has been raising attention to itself due to it being the first single-dose of its kind to combat the deadly pandemic (J&J). 

      The rollout of the vaccines and the expanded qualifications for them did not come without complication here in Florida. In addition to the aforementioned state regulations, Floridians 16 and older with underlying medical conditions are eligible for the vaccine too. Despite this, some locations overlooked the regulations and permitted those 16 and older without any health issues to book appointments throughout all the confusion. 

      Kevin Orbegoso, a senior, was one of these teens. While having no pre-existing health conditions, he was a recipient of the vaccine at a location accepting anyone over 18. “I was extremely fortunate,” he admitted. “I didn’t need any sort of paperwork. They rolled up my sleeve and the rest is history.” 

      He wasn’t alone. Senior Zafeer Virani was also given an appointment. Virani does not have any medical ailments but instead, “My dad is high risk so my whole family signed up for the vaccine. Luckily, we all got it.” Showing up with just his insurance card and ID, Zafeer felt good knowing he and family will be protected from Covid-19. “I would rather be safe than sorry for my sake and theirs,” he states. He intends on continuing to wear his mask and following the Covid guidelines. 

      The increasing number of Floridians getting vaccinated opened the doors for potentially transitioning to a more standard way of life. So as Florida Governor Ron Desantis considers lowering the age eligible for receiving the vaccine to 55 this March, and President Joe Biden directs all states to make it readily available for all adults by May (NBC), it is possible that every American over 18 will get their hands on the vaccine before July 4th.

      Additionally, Biden’s signature of the $1.9 trillion economic relief package will assist those heavily affected by the pandemic. On March 11th, the president also announced his intention to have all eligible adults designated to receive their vaccination  “no later than May 1st”(Axios).

      Feelings of relief, happiness, and a sense of normality will begin to fill the air. History teacher, Kolby Rudd, precisely expresses these sentiments. “I feel like there is light at the end of the pandemic tunnel,” she stated. “Seeing my parents and colleagues getting the vaccine makes me feel like our country is really starting to make progress in the right direction.” Since March of last year, Rudd has been living a careful, isolated life to limit the risk to herself, family, and friends. “Getting the vaccine will mean I can see my loved ones–and my five-month-old can meet much of her family for the first time too,” she said. 

      Hopefully, her thoughts echo through the empty hallways and crowded Zoom meetings as students contemplate their complete return to school.