Westchester County Adolescents Voice Thoughts on Vaccination by Jiah Baak, age 13


NEW YORK, NY–If you were put in a situation where you had to choose between the safety and health of others and yourself or your religious beliefs, what would be your decision?

This is a question many Westchester County residents are asking themselves as vaccination rates decline at a rather rapid pace throughout the nation and throughout New York State.

As of August 5th, 2021, statewide, 59% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. The 41% that have not been vaccinated are mainly people that have preexisting conditions or certain religious beliefs that prevent them from receiving their first or second dose of the vaccine. 

Meanwhile, in Westchester County, 28% of the eligible residents (ages 12+) are not fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times County By County Vaccination Map; still a sizable minority. 

I polled a sample group of 18 residents aged 11 to 14 who attend John Jay Middle and High School in my district, District 18 in Westchester County. I asked them if they have been immunized, or, if they are not eligible (due to being under the age of 12), would they want to get immunized? 89% (18 residents polled) of this group said “yes”and the other 11% (2 residents polled) said that they would not, because of their parents’ beliefs that have influenced their own.

One of the students that was polled stated that they would want to get vaccinated regardless of whether or not their parents approved. Another said that they think that it is too risky for their health to get vaccinated.  

A third student, asked about their vaccine experience, remarked, “I had 1 to 2 days of feeling sick and sore in my arm but after that I was completely fine.”

Last month, reporter Ruthie Alcazar wrote in the Writopia Quarterly News that “[i]n April 2020, it seemed like anyone would have jumped for the chance to get a Covid vaccine. But a year later, when we have vaccines, 1 in 4 Americans said they would refuse to get vaccinated.” Even though the vaccine has been proven 94% effective, some anti-vaxxers believe the vaccination to be more dangerous than the virus itself, she added.  

A local parent familiar with the results of the poll seemed to agree with the majority, adding, “I would recommend getting the vaccine to other people even if I was not able to.”

It seems that vaccination rates will increase over time due to the number of people that are ineligible but willing to get immunized; but in the meantime, continue to stay safe and wear a mask!

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