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Rutgers students share experiences, thoughts on coronavirus vaccine

Out of all New Jersey residents, approximately 9.9 percent have gotten at least the first coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine dose, and approximately 2.9 percent have received both doses as of yesterday.  – Photo by Gov. Phil Murphy / Flickr

Many students at Rutgers are frontline healthcare employees or essential workers, making them eligible for the first phases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine distribution in New Jersey. Students shared their experiences and thoughts regarding the vaccine. 

“I had cautions at some point … (and) I felt a little bit concerned,” said Nafi Chowdhury, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year and patient care technician. “But really it was more of either I don’t get the vaccine and I … could potentially get sick or I get the vaccine and I’m good.”

He said he made the decision to get vaccinated when he was told there were a few extra spots left and chose to take advantage of the opportunity. Chowdhury said he received the Pfizer vaccine, and on Jan. 16 was administered his second dose.

Following his vaccination, he said he needed to wait 15 minutes in the room to ensure that nothing happened to him. Chowdhury said that all he needed to do prior was enter his work number and fill out a form online.

Jillian Milano, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and full-time dental assistant, was another healthcare worker to receive the vaccine.

“I’ll be very upfront about my experience,” she said. “(The) first dose went okay. I experienced arm soreness, a little nauseousness, fatigue, and a headache, but it only lasted for the day after. (The) second dose was tough. I felt intense weakness, fever, chills, slight nauseousness and some chest tightness. I didn’t sleep the night I received it. (Although), by the end of the day, I had almost completely recovered.”

As of yesterday, approximately 9.9 percent of New Jersey residents have gotten vaccinated with at least one dose, and approximately 2.9 percent have received both doses, according to an article from The New York Times.

Despite some Rutgers students receiving the vaccine, there are also many students who have not been vaccinated. 

“I will be getting the vaccine as soon as I have the chance,” said Zain Bhatti, a Rutgers Business School first-year. “I think it’s important that every person is vaccinated, and in order to keep both myself and my family safe whenever I go out during these (COVID-19) times, it’s important for me to get the vaccination whenever I can.”

Cavin Saravanan, a School of Engineering first-year, also said he plans on receiving the vaccine when possible both for public and personal health reasons. 

“The more people that have the vaccine, the less it spreads I believe,” he said. “It’s also a precaution for myself (due to) the variety of reactions to COVID-19. I personally have asthma so I don’t know what (COVID-19) would do to me if I did get it.”

Both Bhatti and Saravanan said that they are not very concerned about the potential side effects of the vaccine.

“I’ve seen the statistics and how likely it is for side effects (to occur) … I’m not necessarily worried that what (healthcare professionals) are giving me is harmful just based on my general opinion of vaccinations,” Saravanan said.

Bhatti said that, as far as he knows, the side effects seem to be nothing out of the ordinary for the most part. Additionally, he said some of his peers have received the vaccine and they have since fully recovered from the side effects they may have experienced.

Chowdhury shared his advice for other students who have not gotten or do not plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“If people are on the fence about getting the vaccine, I think you just need to analyze your own situation,” he said. “I’m not about to say ‘you’re going to die’ if you don’t … it’s really if you want to take that extra precaution.”

Milano said that for students who have any hesitations about getting the vaccine, it is important to think about the alternative, which is potentially getting COVID-19.

“Thousands and thousands of healthcare workers have gotten (the vaccine) and trust the science behind it,” she said. “It shocks me when people detest (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, but want their lives back to normal. This is the first step to lead our nation to better overall health … Not all of us would be here without vaccines.”

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