Up the Doses, Drop the Age


Exciting news has been brought to the attention of anxious families awaiting vaccine availability. The CDC released a statement in the beginning of May that children as young as 12 years old can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Millions of young adults are getting vaccinated everyday, and we are no exception.

We both received our vaccines at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall vaccination site. What was once a Sears store was cleared and replaced by tents, tables, and diligent volunteers of various medical backgrounds. The New Jersey National Guard checked us in and ushered us through lines as we confirmed our identities and appointments, and then headed off to the doctors and nurses administering the vaccine. It was a strange experience; the familiarity of the mall was gone. A place for loitering while looking for winter jackets and discounted jeans was transformed into an efficient epicenter for COVID relief.  

The Sears test site is an efficient and accessible destination popular to those living in the Morris County area. If under 18, you will need to be prepared with a legal guardian, valid identification, and insurance card. These precautions are taken to ensure you are receiving your vaccine, and by coming prepared, the process runs smoother. After you receive a vaccine, you are seated in a “zone” in which you are kept under observation to ensure that no immediate and dangerous reactions occur. You are monitored for 15 minutes in this area, scheduled for your second appointment, and then you are sent home. 

Nick Stella, a fellow sophomore and 16 year old, shared his experience with receiving his vaccine at the Sears site. Like many, Nick expressed apprehension in response to the overwhelming change of environment. He said, “I knew nothing was going to hurt me and nothing wrong was going to happen, but I was always anxious that something was going to go wrong just because of how formal it was. I think it was the amount of authorities and the fact that it mostly feels like everyone who is there doesn’t want to be.” 

Despite some anxiety, Nick had a positive yet honest reaction to the process. “It’s not a very comforting experience,” he stated, “but they’re getting it done well and efficiently.” 

Though the environment could be daunting at times, comfort was found in the sincere concern for protecting the community’s health. The medical personnel had friendly bedside manners and made the circumstances more tolerable. The volunteers were personable and provided reassurance through their calm and welcoming demeanor. 

If you are interested in obtaining a vaccine, those under 18 can only receive Pfizer. Acquiring an appointment to receive the vaccine can be tricky, but there is a way it can be hassle-free. It is highly recommended to sign up for the Atlantic Health System alerts. Once you receive an email or text that appointments are available, you can place your appointment and sign up within minutes.

We understand that receiving the vaccine is a personal choice. However, it can be a selfless act as not only are you protecting yourself, but the community as a whole. As teens, many of us are less likely to contract the most severe COVID symptoms. With that being said, we are equally responsible for protecting those who are not as fortunate. We urge you to consider your personal needs and those of others, and to perceive the vaccine as a public-spirited step towards a cessation to the COVID-19 pandemic.