As of Tuesday, all Maryland residents over the age of 16 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at mass vaccination sites. While some students have already qualified for vaccinations through clinical work, now everyone has access.
Hopkins must now recommit to its role in ensuring public health. Many peer institutions, like Northeastern University and Cornell University, have planned vaccination requirements for the fall semester, and Duke University has already made vaccines available to all students.
The University should provide direct shuttles to mass vaccination sites like the Baltimore Convention Center and the M&T Bank Stadium, as not everyone can afford Uber or Lyft rates. Given that the Night Ride doesn’t start until 6 p.m., it is not feasible for students to use this service to get to their vaccines.
Although students can transfer from the Charm City Circulator Purple Route to the Orange Route and arrive several blocks away from the stadium, students may not feel comfortable taking public transit during a pandemic. Additionally, this option may not be accessible for everyone. In a similar vein, Hopkins should establish vaccination sites on campus, as it did last semester for flu shots.
As more students get vaccinated, professors will need to be more lenient about missing class for vaccine appointments or if a student feels unwell after their shot. Staff are able to take two days of leave after immunization; students will feel the same side effects and should have the option to take time to rest.
However, the responsibility is ultimately on us as students to ensure a smooth vaccination process for our community.
While the vaccine brings hope, in addition to the temptation of immediately meeting up with friends, the fact remains that the pandemic is ongoing, and we can all still be carriers. Because college students nationwide disregarded public health guidelines during spring break, there has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases. While taking a vacation may seem appealing, we must remember that vaccination distribution has been largely inequitable across the globe.
Vaccine distribution has also been inequitable in Baltimore. When students return to campus in the fall, we must protect the larger community by continuing to comply with public health guidelines as they evolve.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. While we should be optimistic, we must remain vigilant until we reach herd immunity. Until then, do your part and get your shot.