Vaccine distribution creates hope for new beginnings, normalcy


Astrid Cabrera

While working at COVID-19 vaccinaton sites, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School alumna Astrid Cabrera has already recieved both doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Itzel Luna

With coronavirus cases consistently declining in Los Angeles County, California will begin setting aside 10% of the COVID-19 vaccine that the state receives each week to vaccinate teachers starting March 1.

LAUSD schools have been closed for in-person instruction since March 13, 2020. Superintendent Austin Buetner announced that this vaccination site is an important step for resuming in-person instruction and prioritizing L.A. County school staff for COVID-19 vaccination.  The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has opened its first COVID-19 vaccination site on Feb. 17 located at the Roybal Learning Center near downtown Los Angeles. This site will be vaccinating school district staff aged 65 or older and employees who are currently working at coronavirus testing sites. 

“This will not only protect the health and safety of the essential employees in schools but will provide enormous benefits to children and their families, leading to a faster reopening of schools,” Buetner said during his weekly broadcast on Feb. 15. 

Teachers are expected to be added to the vaccine eligibility list in the next few weeks, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. L.A. County met the threshold necessary on Feb. 16 to open elementary schools but LAUSD has not announced when in-person classes will resume. 

As of now, no COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for those under the age of 16. This raises 

some concerns because LAUSD has more than 300,000 students who are under the age of 16.

Although the COVID-19 vaccine hasn’t been made widely available to teachers yet, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) social science teacher Brenda Helfing has received both doses of the vaccine through a site’s overflow line. 

“I had seen on the news that at Balboa Park, they were having an overflow line,” Helfing said. “They were only really vaccinating health care workers but at the end of the shift if they had extra vaccines, they gave it to people in the wait line and the priority in the line was healthcare workers and teachers.”

Helfing received the first dose on Jan. 13 and the second dose on Feb. 12. She experienced side effects to the vaccine, including arm soreness, headaches and fatigue. However, she believes those symptoms are manageable and appreciates the sense of security that the vaccine has given her when she is in public. 

“It occurred to me while I was shopping (after receiving the second dose) that… I have a level of comfort that I didn’t have a few months ago,” Helfing said. 

DPMHS alumna Astrid Cabrera is a sophomore at the University of California, Los Angeles and has received both doses of the Moderna vaccine. Cabrera has worked at a COVID-19 testing site since December and currently works at a vaccination site in the San Fernando Valley. After she and her family got coronavirus last April, Cabrera felt motivated to not only get the vaccine but to influence others as well. 

“I felt very fortunate to have the opportunity to get vaccinated,” Cabrera said. “I also took it as an opportunity to share my experience with others as well as act as a primary source… to inform people of when it is their turn.” 

As a vaccination site worker, Cabrera stresses that the vaccine is safe and effective. For students like DPMHS freshman Jeffrey Brennenman, the vaccine offers a sense of hope.  

“I would take the vaccine,” Brennenman said. “I think the vaccine will be effective in slowing and eventually stopping the spread of COVID.” 

Senior Sydnee Blueford is worried that the rapid development of this vaccine will scare others off from taking it. She is still unsure whether or not she would take the vaccine.

“I will feel a little safer taking the vaccine because I will be one of the last people to take it but for now I’m being very cautious,” Blueford said. “I’m a little concerned about how quickly the vaccine was developed but we’ll see.” 

According to Cabrera, the vaccine was not rushed since it did have to go through every phase and trial necessary for approval. She stresses the importance of recognizing the false information spread about the vaccine. 

“The supply and demand for the vaccination is very high,” Cabrera said. “(Now), it’s just about waiting. We have waited an entire year now and the end is near. There’s some hope. We’re slowing the spread and we can see it statistically. So, just hold on to that hope and be a little patient.”