Dordt students still confident in vaccine, despite pause

Jaclyn Vander Waal— Staff Writer

On April 7, 218 Dordt University students entered the DeWitt Gymnasium with their student IDs, masks, and consent forms to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Six days following the vaccination clinic, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paused Johnson and Johnson vaccine distribution for 11 days because six cases of a dangerous type of blood clot were reported in women ages 18-59. 

After conducting a safety review, the federal agencies recommended the vaccine resume on Friday, April 23, with a caution that women younger than 50 may be at rare risk of developing the blood clot. By that date, the CDC had reported these cases in 15 women out of more than 8 million doses administered in the United States. 

Yet, Dordt students and staff were not discouraged by this setback. Many remained hopeful because of the way the healthcare system handled the situation. They say vaccinations are still the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The fact that our health-care system said, ‘Hey, we need to stop and look at this,’ should reinforce the confidence that we can have in our healthcare system – that it does pay attention to these things,” said Beth Bass, director of student health and counseling for Dordt University. 

She compared the situation to driving a car. Each day, people choose to get in their cars despite the fact that some will get in fatal crashes. She said the small number of blood clot cases among the millions who received the vaccination is a much lower risk.

Selena Munson, a senior, and Hannah Glynn, a junior, received the vaccine at the Dordt clinic. Although they were initially concerned when hearing the news of the pause, both were comforted by the small percentage of women who were affected by the blood clots.

Both students also experienced multiple expected side-effects from the vaccine, ranging from fevers to intense headaches, over the next 24-hours.

“I can be a wimp sometimes when it comes to being sick, but I don’t think I was being dramatic this time,” Glynn said. “I was wiped out.”

Both said they would do it over again, though.

Munson was encouraged she could no longer be contact-traced and that it would be safer to be in close contact with others in public. Glynn is eager to be able to visit her grandparents in May. 

“Despite the terrible side-effects and the uncertainties of the shot, I think getting vaccinated is important,” Glynn said. “Having the chance to get the shot here easily on campus is really convenient. I know things are still far from normal but getting vaccinated is a step in the right direction.”

Baas hopes students will seek out reliable sources like the CDC for their information on COVID-19 and vaccinations. She also wants to see more students get vaccinated in the coming months, whether that be with the J&J or another vaccine. Even though COVID-19 may appear to not be as serious of a threat to students due to their age, Baas understands the implications of people not getting the vaccine.

“To really get rid of COVID-19, it’s going to require that 70 to 80 percent of the whole world gets vaccinated,” Baas said. “If we don’t hit that percentage, those that are unvaccinated will continue to be the source of new variants that threaten the help of the vaccination. We could find ourselves back where we were last year again.”

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