Editorial: Vax up and Mask up

Illustration by Evan Koenigs | The Signal

It’s time to have the conversation we all have been dreading. How many of you have been fully vaccinated? As of September 5th, only 41% of Georgia citizens have chosen to be vaccinated. 

Even the nearby COVID-19 hot spot, Flordia, has vaccinated over 50% of its population. As we quickly approach the two-year mark, many are rightfully questioning. “When will this ever end?” 

If you drive around the country, almost every entry-level job location is hiring. Even Chick-Fil-a is struggling to hold employees. And this still comes after many companies have raised their minimum wage to $12-15 an hour.

Yet, the people asking why their local Dunkin’ is closed are the very same ones with no masks and who are not vaccinated. There is a sense of security for many that it can’t happen to them, to us. 

They tell themselves that they are young and healthy. Tell that to the family of 19-year-old Breanna Gray. She was in the final weeks of her summer before her first semester at Navarro College. 

She had no health issues but had not received the vaccine. Within a few weeks, she died of COVID-19.

We already see a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths within the state. Hospital beds are filling up, and the pandemic has torn families apart. Factoring in the crowds from Labor Day, we are bound to see a rise in cases within the next few weeks. 

“College students should seriously consider getting vaccinated,” said Kathy Maloney, the Director of Health Services at Monmouth University. “This is not just for one’s health but for the health and well-being of family members, friends and the greater community. Vaccination is our primary defense against the COVID-19 virus. If we can eliminate people serving as hosts for viral replication, we can reduce case incidence on campus and in the community.”

That is the critical reason for us students getting the vaccine. Not to keep us safe but to keep everyone else safe while still enjoying life and my college experience. I understand the pain of my fellow students. 

Online University was horrible. I miss seeing my friends, going out to hot pot, Kung Fu Tea and Rosa’s. Even though I hated it, I do miss walking through the College of Law wind tunnel. I miss going to The Living Room on Monday nights and the all-night study sessions in the commons. 

That’s why I got vaccinated. That’s why I wear a mask. So that my friends and I can go on those late-night waffle house and race track runs. It is our responsibility to fix this country. 

We can’t do it if we are stuck home because people don’t want to wear masks. We must mask up and vax up because I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go into another lockdown.