Vaccination Age Extended to Elementary Aged Children

Ellie O'Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Senior

As of late October, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was approved for use in children aged 5-11. The consequences that this will have upon younger students in the school system is to be observed as the vaccination numbers in this age demographic rise. With recent outbreaks in elementary schools causing waves of quarantines for not only students, but teachers as well, many thank the new approval. Modern inoculation remains a controversial topic across the nation, but younger students aren’t scared to share their thoughts.

Current 5th graders were in the 3rd grade when the country first went into lockdown. Then at age 8, students spent the rest of their first decade alive in and out of quarantines and stay-at-home mandates. Siwanoy students Caden MacMahon and  Caroline Gould discussed their process of vaccination. Of their 5th grade class consisting of 22 kids, about 15 were expecting to be fully vaccinated by the end of December. With these kinds of numbers, one can be hopeful that the majority of elementary students will be COVID-resistant by the time the school year ends, but what does a new, younger, group of vaccinated kids entail? 

When asked, MacMahon and Gould implied that, though half of their elementary education was “normal”, they didn’t necessarily think that the world would be completely as they remembered it pre-pandemic. However, there are still some glimmers of hope for a healthier future. “I’m most excited to have a real birthday party,” MacMahon said, “In 2020, my birthday party had to be canceled.”

Gould, who is coming up on her 2-week mark to being fully vaccinated, said, “I want to do all of the things I couldn’t do before, like going to the movies.” For many adults, actions that seem as commonplace as going to the picture house were taken for granted since April, but young children still faced a reality that prevented them from experiencing such ordinary events. The two kids said that they anticipate even more activities to be available as more students become immunized.

New York City has mandated that all students be vaccinated before participating in extracurriculars, and when asked her thoughts, Gould said, “I think that kids should be fully vaccinated to participate in certain activities.” Such an instruction would provide an incentive for students to get the vaccine as they would be missing out on their favorite activities otherwise. 

Students, especially younger ones, have had their normal childhoods interrupted by an extraordinary virus. As vaccinations in kids age 5-11 rise, students can now glimpse at a more normal future, one where they can throw birthday parties and go to the movies.