After a year of sitting around waiting for normalcy to be restored in our communities, I think it’s safe to say that, at this point, we are all more than a little impatient for the COVID-19 pandemic to end. The pandemic has embodied many things, but by far the most disappointing have been the wasted potential and missed opportunities — including plans put on hold, restrictions placed on what we can do and general feelings of unproductivity. It’s borderline upsetting to think about how much time has passed. This past year of COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing has felt like one big blur.
Since that fateful day last spring when in-person classes were canceled for the remainder of my first year, I have been taking classes onlines. Zoom fatigue and general burnout aside, I’ve been itching to actually meet up with others in person. I have met up with several people after taking the necessary precautions, but nothing quite compares to being in the midst of a bustling crowd. As a person who feeds off other people’s energy, I have felt especially drained due to the lack of social interaction.
Given my desire to once again be in public spaces, you can imagine how eager I am to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Most people are — so much so that even students in the University community are traveling far distances to receive vaccinations of their own. It’s perfectly understandable, of course. Vaccinations are the first pivotal step to returning life to normal. Those who have been vaccinated can rest easy knowing they have a significantly reduced risk of contrasting COVID-19 — and subsequently infecting their loved ones or close friends.
I have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination, but I know many who have. The entirety of my immediate family and many of my friends have already received the first or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — whether that be Pfizer or Moderna. This is because, in Virginia, they all fall under the vaccination Phase 1B, meaning that they all possessed some kind underlying medical condition that qualified them for early access. Friends and acquaintances of mine living overseas were given priority for their positions as healthcare or other essential workers.
The anticipation of receiving a vaccine has placed everyone in a frenzied state. Vaccine envy has been growing more commonplace as the weeks pass and more individuals are immunized. Seeing everyone else partaking in pre-coronavirus activities and celebrating outdoors after being vaccinated can naturally make those still waiting all the more anxious to get their shots. This feeling of impatience and general envy has even affected those with amplified voices, who have taken to social media or public platforms to voice their complaints. Charles Barkley argued that athletes deserved “preferential treatment” for the amount of taxes they pay to the government. A local Fox News Anchor was even suspended after he bemoaned the fact that “obese people of all ages get priority vaccine access.”
I myself haven’t quite felt resentful or angered every time I hear another person I know has been vaccinated, but I have felt increasingly impatient. In my mind, getting vaccinated has become conflated with being able to go out without fear, attend public events and spend more time with those whose company I’ve missed this past year. One of my friends who falls in Phase 1B was able to secure vaccinations for his entire family. Afterwards, that same friend secured vaccinations for several of our mutual friends in the Charlottesville area who qualified for Phase 1B. As someone off Grounds, it can be tempting to drive out and grab my vaccinations as fast as possible, becoming one of the “vaccine chasers” infamous for seeking out leftover vaccines.
All that being said, I am committed to waiting for my vaccination doses. We are so close to the finish line at this point, and it’s more important than ever that we stay safe and avoid spreading the infection during this period of distribution. I am hopeful that by this time next year, the COVID-19 pandemic will be a memory in our recent past, and not an ever-present problem that persists into future semesters and years spent at the University. This summer, we have much to look forward to. Let’s not spoil it now.
All of Virginia will move to Phase 2 beginning April 18, meaning that everyone 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Check this link to see the phase in your specific locality, and be sure to pre-register if you have not done so already at this link. For students living on Grounds, the University has begun sending vaccination invitations — be sure to keep up to date and check your student emails for more information.
Samantha Cynn is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: Since the Blue Ridge Health District entered Phase 2 on April 12, the University invited students living on- or off-Grounds in the Charlottesville area to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments.