mRNA Saves the Day



Health care workers were included in the first round of distribution for the vaccine

After months of careful but rushed research, the COVID-19 vaccine is in the first stages of distribution. The distribution timeline prioritizes front line health care workers, however the next stage of distribution will include people with high risk illnesses and essential workers such as teachers. Many faculty and students at Hutchison are eligible in this next wave of distribution.

The new vaccine has given many people hope that the pandemic will soon come to an end. With this new breakthrough, also comes hesitation about how reliable the vaccine is. The Hutchison safety committee sent out a survey asking the staff if they would get the vaccine, when it became available. Ninety two percent of the staff said they would get the vaccine when it became available. Teachers are essential front line workers, and therefore they will be given priority over the general public.

Renee Riem, a science teacher, said “I will get the vaccine when it becomes available to ensure I protect myself and others around me.” Many people are concerned that the vaccine was developed too quickly and there is no scientific evidence to prove there will be no negative long term effects. Ms. Riem believes that “proper research went into the creation of the vaccine, and I completely trust the science.” Many teachers were hesitant about returning back to campus in the midst of a pandemic. Ms. Riem said, “I was nervous about the unknowns of teaching this year, but I am reassured by the fact that there has been no known transmission of COVID- 19 on campus.” The sooner everyone in the Hutchison community can be vaccinated, the sooner we can go back to a normal school experience.

Currently there is not a vaccine available for anyone under the age of 16. Until there is further research, the school cannot make the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine a required immunization. The Hutchison vaccination requirements differ with each student. Some students can be exempt from required vaccination due to a grandfather clause. This grandfather clause exempts girls from receiving any of the Hutchison required immunizations. There are a limited number of students at Hutchison who do not have any immunizations due to the grandfather clause, however they are primarily in the class of 2021. Although research is progressing, no formal protocols can be changed until the vaccine is more widely available.

This pandemic has emphasized the importance of wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing to protect ourselves. Throughout the school year Hutchison has followed the proper guidelines laid out by the CDC. Many questions have been raised on how school procedure will be changed once members of the community begin to be vaccinated. Coach Catherine Chubb is the chair of the health and safety committee, which focuses on controlling outbreaks at school and putting in place procedures to keep students and staff safe. Every week Coach Chubb meets with top officials with the Shelby County Health Department, they discuss new guidelines and research that has been published.

According to Coach Chubb, “since the majority of our students are not eligible for a vaccine, due to their age, not many considerations have been made for students.” However, the Health Department has decided school nurses will not be allowed to administer the vaccine. “Handling the vaccine is very difficult, but Hutchison is hoping to be a strike site for the community. Being a strike site would entail, trained professionals coming to Hutchison to administer the vaccine to the faculty. Once the vaccine is distributed to all staff, Hutchison would hope to expand the vaccination to other teachers in the community. Although Hutchison would love to be a vaccine strike site, the Health Department has to approve this.

Ultimately, as new research is released Hutchison can begin to make more informed decisions on how protocol will change. There is not enough research at this point for Hutchison to make any permanent changes.