Fear and Uncertainty Regarding Safety of COVID-19 Vaccine Drops in SRHS Community


Jose Lopez Arce, Contributor

With the sting of a syringe, excitement and uncertainty invaded the minds of vaccinated individuals. A hopeful new desire for a return to normality spread throughout numerous SRHS staff and students. As of the 24th of September, only 6 confirmed cases of COVID have been reported at San Rafael High School, showing the effect the high vaccination rate in Marin provided.

“I was very happy coming back to school,” Harper Corso, a freshman at SRHS said. He does not regret his decision, feels safer than before, and his worries regarding the pandemic have lessened.

A September 2021 student survey done of 30 San Rafael High School students found that 24 were fully vaccinated. Five were halfway in the process and only one student claimed that he was not going to get the vaccine at all. 

Out of the 24, fully vaccinated students polled, three showed proof of vaccination. Some of the main reasons they decided to get vaccinated include wanting to protect their family and friends, wanting to come back to school, and hoping for normality to return.

Five hesitant students chose to postpone the action until now, and only have gotten their first vaccination. They occupy a middle ground. They have been unwilling to receive a coronavirus vaccine until someone or something convinced them otherwise.

Only one student confirmed that he wasn’t going to get vaccinated. “I already got ‘rona’ and I don’t see how the vaccine is going to improve my immune system,” said Bode Beirdneu, a San Rafael senior.

“I don’t think the vaccine is ready yet,” Beirdneu said, bringing up a very common fear amongst people that don’t agree with the vaccine, the rapid release, and mass production.

About 11 months have passed since the first release of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals over the age of 16 years of age in the US. Students and staff members at San Rafael High School have things to say about the current safety level with the current vaccination rate, which is at 98% for San Rafael City Schools staff.

Kent Morales, a science teacher at San Rafael High School, said, “I feel medium-safe coming back to school,” mentioning the delta variant outbreak. “More people that have been vaccinated are getting infected than before,” he explained. When asked his motives for getting vaccinated he responded that it was a selfless act. “It’s not just for me, I have an 80 year old mother and two kids that I need to take care of,” Mr. Morales said. “Even If I had felt bad for a couple of days it still would’ve been fine.”

David Calderon Varguez, an extracurricular teacher for the after-school club ForWords, had doubts after the vaccine was made public. “The vaccine came out fast,” he said. But his desire for returning to school and feeling safer was more than enough to convince him to get vaccinated.

Mr. Calderon feels shielded coming back to school. He said, “I definitely think the vaccination percentage is high.” Resources like Marin Health and Human Services, Marin General Hospital, Color Health Inc. help provide information. “People are capable of educating themselves,” Mr. Calderon said. 

Times are hard, and it gets harder and harder to remember how different things used to be before the pandemic. “I never personally had an experience where the world went into lockdown,” said Kambria Metcalfe, a science teacher, from San Rafael High School. 

“I’m going to get vaccinated, so I feel safe doing my job, and also it feels like the responsible thing to do,” said Ms. Metcalfe, after being asked what her reasons for getting vaccinated were. 

 “So many people were dying and being hospitalized, the media diet every single day was all about that,” she said. “I better get vaccinated because I don’t want to be one of those people that gets long-term effects,” said Ms. Metcalfe.

The constant fear of what might happen still makes her uneasy,  “When I first came back I was pretty stressed, I didn’t know if it was safe’” she said. Her worries have slowly died down. “I took down the plexiglass and we’ve started to do labs as a class.” 

Remaining aware and well-informed is a necessity in order to remain motivated and hopeful in these complicated times.

Students and parents can find a constant supply of information on the SRHS official website. By going to the main page and searching “about COVID,” a spreadsheet with data regarding how many students and staff members confirmed cases have occurred will show up. 

More information on the vaccination rate from every school in the Marin District will be published October 1st. “Individual vaccination information will not be made public,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, the county’s deputy public health officer.

“We need to remain cautious and hopeful for what might happen next,” Mr. Morales said. 

Interactions amongst students will have to be gradual. Actions have to be taken in order to keep control over disease spread, especially since new variants are surfacing.