As a student assistant in a UNC cancer research lab, senior Emily Kron was in the first group eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
She received her first dose last week and is one of many UNC students who have already received one or both doses of the vaccine.
“I want things to go back to normal — or at least not be so overwhelming — as soon as possible, so doing my part to keep myself and other people safe is important to me,” she said.
Students like Kron, who are working in hospitals, medical research labs and other health care positions, are eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1 of North Carolina’s vaccine rollout plan.
Junior nursing student Jazmara Espinal said she felt confident going into her vaccination because of the prior knowledge she had about the type of vaccine she was receiving.
“I actually was hoping we would be selected for Phase 1 from the very beginning,” she said. “It’s not just for the patients or for myself, it’s for everybody around me — to protect everyone.”
Like Espinal, third-year medical student Amir Jabr said he wanted to protect his family and friends while he is on a one-year rotation at the WakeMed Raleigh Campus.
“It makes me more comfortable to know that I have less of a chance of getting it,” he said. “Like anything in medicine, it's a risk-benefit type of thing, and I think that the benefits outweigh the risks of the situation.”
Noor Agha, a senior who works as a certified nursing assistant at Duke University Hospital, said she was a little nervous about the long-term results and side effects going into her vaccine. She experienced significant side effects after receiving the second dose, but it was worth it to be less anxious about COVID-19, she said.
“I was exposed to these COVID patients pretty regularly, but I wanted to be able to go back and see my family more regularly because my father works in health care, and my mom is an essential worker,” she said. “It alleviated a lot of the stress of going home.”
The University is encouraging everyone to get a vaccine when they are able to.
“Vaccinations are one of the best ways the campus community can protect themselves and those around them from the virus and is a critical step in ending the pandemic,” Provost Bob Blouin said in a statement.
In addition to encouraging students to get vaccinated, the University adopted a testing program for the spring semester.
“Get it,” Agha said, speaking to any students who may be eligible to receive the vaccine. “Trust science. Trust the doctors — they know what they're doing.”
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