It’s been a long and painful ride, but the pandemic is finally over… right? After a year and two months of waiting, the vaccine is finally readily available to students. UO is distributing it at Autzen Stadium and opened registration to undergraduates on Monday, April 12 according to a school-wide email. For many students, this is their first chance to get vaccinated. Most are excited to get vaccinated and put the pandemic behind them, but understand that the vaccine won’t change their lives overnight.
“I want things to go back to normal as soon as possible, and getting vaccinated is the best way to do that,” Bo Munley, a first-year who received his first vaccine shot through Albertsons, said. Like many students, Munley feels isolated because of the pandemic while living on campus.
Many freshmen are disappointed about missing out on social opportunities during their first year of college, and some have left campus because of their mental health, financial concerns or both.“My floor keeps bleeding out people,” Munley said. “We started the year with 42 people. Winter term we had 37. Now we’re at like 34.” According to UO’s COVID-19 resource page, there won’t be any changes in restrictions for the spring term. There is hope for a fresh start in the fall, after the vaccine roll-out, but that seems like ages away to some.
Emma McEvoy, another freshman living on campus, faced similar struggles adjusting to campus life during the pandemic. “The restrictions at UO are good,” she said. “A lot of my friends go to southern schools and they’ve all had COVID.” McEvoy considered going to a school in the South, because she would have had a more normal college experience with fewer COVID-19 restrictions. But she’s happy that she’s going to UO. “It was hard not to have people in the room at first, but it’s kind of nice now because it’s really my own space,” she said. McEvoy has made the best of her time in the dorms during COVID-19, but is excited for restrictions to loosen once the vaccine is distributed more widely.
McEvoy is also a student-employee at the vaccination center at Autzen Stadium. She received her first dose of Pfizer from the school and will be fully vaccinated on May 1. “Working at Autzen is so fun,” she said. “You’re in the sun. You’re talking to people. It’s great.” Workers like McEvoy help the vaccine clinic run. Volunteers are manning almost every station, from check-ins to directing traffic.
McEvoy and Munley have high hopes for the future, but aren’t disillusioned about life after the vaccine. Munley acknowledges that he won’t be entering utopia after getting his second dose. “A lot more people are going to have to make the decisions I made so we can drive the numbers down,” he said. “Even though I’m individually protected, as long as people can still get COVID the school rules aren’t going to change.” Although the vaccine protects the vaccinated from COVID-19, the CDC is not sure if it completely stops the transmission of the virus. “I think a lot of the older people getting the vaccine don’t expect to change anything,” McEvoy said. “They’re just going back into quarantine and things like that.”
What does the vaccine roll-out at the University really mean? Students can’t expect any short-term changes: Rules and restrictions will basically stay the same, and COVID-19 testing will continue during the spring term. But the long-term effects of the vaccine will result in life starting to look like it did before March of 2020. Students can look forward to things like in-person classes next fall… just not quite yet.