Temple students discuss family, friends receiving COVID-19 vaccine

As vaccinations for groups 1A and 1B roll out, students are hopeful people at high-risk of COVID-19 complications will be vaccinated soon.

Sara Gingras (left), a graphic design major at the Tyler School of Art, and Quinn Litsinger, a junior political science major and president of Temple Student Government, sit inside the Howard Gittis Student Center on Jan. 22. | AMBER RITSON / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Anne Lockhart hadn’t visited her dad since March 2020 because of social distancing. 

But because her dad, who works in pharmaceutical research, received both doses of his COVID-19 vaccination, she’s more comfortable doing so now, said Lockhart, a sophomore advertising major.

“I didn’t see him over the holidays or anything, so it’s just been really great to get to see him,” she added.

Philadelphia opened access to COVID-19 vaccines to group 1B on Jan. 19, and some Temple University students are watching family members and friends receive the vaccine or sign up to be soon. Students are hopeful about the prospect of reconnecting with loved ones they haven’t seen in months while feeling frustration seeing older or immunocompromised family members have difficulties scheduling their vaccinations.

Because vaccine availability is limited, their distribution is allocated in groupings based on age, health conditions and occupation, The Temple News reported. Both groups 1A and 1B are currently eligible for vaccinations in Philadelphia. 

Group 1A includes hospital staff, COVID-19 testing and vaccination staff, long-term care workers and residents, emergency medical services, home health care, prison health services, outpatient clinics and unaffiliated health care workers, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Group 1B includes first responders, high-risk service workers, public transit and food service workers, childcare and education workers, high-volume essential retail and critical manufacturing workers, people living or working in residential congregate settings, people older than 75 and people with high-risk medical conditions, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health

College-aged people who are not essential workers or immunocompromised are in group 2 for vaccinations, but the expected time for when this distribution will be available is not yet set, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health

Kelsey Mauger, a sophomore media studies and production major, said her aunt, who works as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, received her first round of the vaccine in early January. 

While Mauger is glad her aunt is vaccinated to protect herself while working on the front line, she is upset that her grandparents, who are older and at a high risk of COVID-19-related complications, are still waiting to get on a vaccination list in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

“I feel bad that they are locked in their homes because they do have really bad health conditions, but hopefully they’ll get it soon,” she added. “I’m like, FaceTiming them every day.”

Mauger’s comfortable visiting her grandparents now because she gets tested twice a week for in-person classes, but she’s looking forward to going to restaurants and inviting her grandparents to her house once she and her family are vaccinated, she added. 

She is unsure when she and her family will be vaccinated, Mauger said.

More than 26 million people received one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 5.9 million people received two doses as of Feb. 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seven percent of Pennsylvanians received the first dose of the vaccine, and only 1.8 percent received the second dose, the New York Times reported on Feb. 1. 

Andrew Kaeser’s mom works as an oncology nurse and was vaccinated on Dec. 30, 2020. While he never felt unsafe at home during winter break, he finds relief knowing his mom is more comfortable at work around her patients.

“It’s great she got vaccinated because it’s important that those people stay safe,” said Kaeser, a junior management information systems major.

Kaeser’s grandparents are in group 1B because of their age, so he is hopeful they will be vaccinated soon and he’ll be able to see them, he said. 

“It’ll be nice that they’ll be able to feel comfortable coming over to our house without having to be through a screen-in porch,” Kaeser added.

Lockhart is still waiting to hear when her grandparents are able to schedule vaccinations, she said. 

“I can tell it’s very frustrating for them because they’ve been wanting to see all their grandkids and everybody, but hopefully it’ll be soon,” Lockhart added. “I haven’t seen them in a while, but I’m excited for them to get it. ”

With the expansion to group 1B, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware are aligning their plan to the federal government’s and the CDC’s recommendations, 6ABC News reported on Jan. 20. 

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration plans to increase vaccine supplies to states by 16 percent beginning this week, the New York Times reported. 

Dana Felise, a freshman secondary English education major, doesn’t know anyone who has received the vaccine yet. Even if her family is vaccinated, she’ll still isolate herself for at least two weeks afterward and get tested for COVID-19 before seeing them, she said.

“I would probably still follow the same protocol that I did before, but I would still see them if the circumstances were right,” Felise added.

Even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, it’s still recommended people social distance and continue wearing masks. Although in-person gatherings are safer after everyone is vaccinated, there is still a chance to spread the virus, the Washington Post reported. 

Olivia Kowalski felt comfortable with getting the vaccination after seeing her mom, who works as a respiratory therapist in the emergency room, receive it, she said. 

“I was curious about it more because like, to see how it would affect her with the virus and like, I guess when I get it, how I would feel,” said Kowalski, a freshman marketing major. 

Getting vaccinated made Kowalski and her mom feel secure about her mom going to work and helping patients, she added. 

Quinn Litsinger, a junior political science major and president of Temple Student Government, said his grandfather is getting his first dose of the vaccine this week. 

“He’s like a really simple old man that just enjoys spending time with other nursing home people, so I’m excited for him to be able to get back to that,” Litsinger said.

The vaccine makes Litsinger more comfortable with the idea of visiting his family, but he plans to quarantine and get tested for COVID-19 before visiting anyone because he works as a cashier at Lorenzo & Sons Pizza on South Street near 3rd, he added. 

While none of Sara Gingras’ immediate family are vaccinated, her aunt who works in a hospital and her friend who works in a retirement home both received their first doses during winter break, she said.

Gingras, a junior graphic and interactive design major, is also hesitant to see her family, even after they all receive the vaccine, she said.

“Not worrying about it doesn’t feel right,” she said. “That doesn’t sit right to me, to just go home and not worry about it even if they have the vaccine, so still going to be hesitant, no matter what.”

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