The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

New Covid vaccine stirs mixed feelings

Maya Oclassen

It’s officially fall in the Windy City,  but leaves aren’t the only thing in the air. Respiratory viruses like Covid-19 are rising, with Chicago reporting an average of 137 confirmed cases daily.  

This month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released recommendations for a new Covid-19 vaccine. Even so, Craig Klugman, DePaul professor of bioethics and health humanities, said convincing people to roll up their sleeves is a challenge. 

“We call it Covid exhaustion,” Klugman said. “People are tired of dealing with it. We’re tired of thinking about it.”

He said only 15% of eligible Americans received the Covid-19 vaccine offered last fall which could be contributing to the recent rise in infections. 

Dr. Susan Buchanan, clinical associate professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago, is recovering from a bout of Covid-19 and encourages all Chicagoans to get the new vaccine. 

Public Health agencies don’t consider this newest vaccine a booster shot, Buchanan said. 

“Because it’s going to likely function like the annual flu shot, which we don’t call a flu booster,” Buchanan said. 

Though Covid-19 is biologically different from the flu, Buchanan said the yearly vaccine rollout for each will be similar.

Despite attempts to get the word out about the importance of the vaccine, some people aren’t rushing to get one.

DePaul senior Krysta Leland said she was unaware that another Covid-19 vaccine was approved. Her mother is immunocompromised and when the pandemic began in 2020, Leland took the utmost precautions to stay virus-free. 

She said when the government first distributed the vaccine in 2021, she drove for miles to get long-awaited protection. 

However, Leland no longer sees the urgency of getting the updated vaccine. 

“I wouldn’t say I’m anti-vaccine, but I’m not going to pursue it like it did the first time around,” Leland said.

Nevertheless, public health officials recommend everyone six months and older get one dose of the new Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines.

Klugman said updated vaccines are crucial because the Covid-19 virus frequently mutates, limiting the effectiveness of older vaccines. Plus, the more people who get infected, the more likely the disease will further mutate.

“With Covid, we have what’s called waning immunity, meaning that the protection that is afforded by the vaccine lasts for a short time of a few months and so we have to re-trigger the immune system to keep our protection,” Klugman said. 

Yearly vaccines renew needed antibodies and reflect the changes scientists frequently observe in the virus.

Klugman said getting the vaccine protects those with higher risk, such as older adults and diabetics, and prevents hospitals and clinics from getting overwhelmed.

He said every time people are exposed to Covid-19, there is an increased chance of coming down with a long Covid, a chronic condition affecting nearly one in five adults, according to the CDC. 

He said any potential short-term discomfort from the shot is better than contracting the virus and risking the unknown and potentially prolonged effects of long Covid. 

“You may get a fever and some chills and some aches and fatigue for a few days,” Buchanan said. “That’s your immune system reacting to the shot and cranking out antibodies that will kill the virus next time.”

Scientists and doctors have conducted numerous studies that have found the vaccine to be safe and effective, according to the World Health Organization and other institutions.

Some students trust those findings. DePaul sophomore Lucas Haviland plans on getting the updated vaccine after contracting the virus earlier this month. 

“Covid is something that isn’t going away, and there are still people at a high risk,” Haviland said. “So not only is it about protecting yourself, it is also about protecting other people.” 

Covid-19 is still a deadly disease with a 2.7% death rate, according to the CDC. Due to a national spike in cases this month, the U.S. government is sending up to four free Covid-19 tests to those who request them.  

Buchanan said everyone has the right to put themselves at risk of dying but admitted frustration because people who do not get vaccinated, “are putting me and particularly my frail elderly parents at risk of dying if they expose me.”

DePaul no longer requires the Covid-19 vaccine but encourages students to stay up to date on the latest shots. 

Klugman, who still wears a mask in public, urges those who do not plan to get vaccinated to reconsider. 

“DePaul is a community. We live together. We work together. We study together, play together,” he said. Therefore, he added, we have a responsibility to keep each other safe.  

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