Freshman journalism and studio art major Katherine Mahoney said she felt as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Mahoney spent countless days hoping to come across a vacant appointment. She relentlessly scrolled through Twitter and constantly refreshed her web browser, anticipating an alert for a vacant spot. After waking up a little after 7 a.m. one morning, Mahoney finally secured an appointment at a Safeway in Columbia, Maryland.
On Friday, April 9, Mahoney headed into the grocery store, stressed and unaware of what to expect.
“I do have a major weight off of my shoulders, I feel so much safer,” Mahoney said.
Over a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many other University of Maryland students have received at least the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination.
As of the last week of April, about 79% of the campus community has been at least partially vaccinated, and 47% are fully vaccinated, according to self-reported data on the University of Maryland’s coronavirus dashboard.
Similar to Mahoney, freshman communications major Paige Andrus felt nervous yet excited when she headed to her Pfizer vaccination appointment at the Riggs Alumni Center on campus.
“Now that I am half-vaccinated, I feel like I have a little more freedom, but I am remaining cautious because I am not fully vaccinated yet,” Andrus said. “I definitely feel like a little weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but once I am fully vaccinated I will probably feel a lot more comfortable and safe.”
Andrus, a substitute indoor cycling instructor at this university, feels much safer now that she is vaccinated but will continue to take the necessary precautions to ensure that all of her class attendees are safe. She also eagerly awaits her summer travels to visit friends and family.
After having multiple trips canceled within the past year, freshman journalism and Spanish major Christine Zhu hopes to take a beach trip with her friends.
But for other students at this university, vaccinations go beyond freedom. Zhu’s mother is immunocompromised. While at home with her family, Zhu rarely leaves her home, doing her best to ultimately try and protect her mother.
“The only time I’ve gone home this academic year was for winter break, and I was mildly concerned about bringing COVID home,” Zhu said.
[bf_image id="b85xj3f5bxrn77hnj2w9zhj"] Zhu is not alone. Both Andrus and Mahoney also have immunocompromised family members. Mahoney quit her job at Cava Mezze immediately because she felt unsafe around her coworkers.
“I chose to quit for the safety of myself and my immunocompromised family,” Mahoney said. “I felt as if being in that situation and interacting with the people who felt comfortable doing all of those things at the beginning [and] middle of the pandemic, I felt as if they were unsafe and therefore the situation would be unsafe.”
While the university plans to hold primarily in-person classes and events for the upcoming fall semester, some students have indicated that they will continue to implement newly formed safety habits throughout their lives.
“I think I will still be cautious for a while, just because the pandemic has completely altered my lifestyle for a long amount of time,” junior communications major Isabel Russo said.