Students and staff share COVID-19 vaccination experiences

Claire Ku, Staff Writer

As SARS-CoV-2* continues to mutate, contributing to the ongoing pandemic, the race to distribute and administer vaccines has been ramped up in response. 

As of Apr. 19, all individuals aged 16 and older in the United States are eligible for a vaccine, a benchmark that was moved up from the original May 1 target date by the Biden administration.

“For months I’ve been telling Americans to get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Well, it’s your turn, now,” President Biden said on a program called “Roll Up Your Sleeves” on NBC, according to the New York Times. “It’s free. It’s convenient and it’s the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19.”

After a slower start, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the United States is now administering an average of 3.2 million doses a day, up from the 2.5 million of last month. In addition, more than 131 million people, approximately half of all American adults, had received at least one shot as of Apr. 18 and about 84.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.

As COVID-19 vaccines are becoming increasingly available to more of the public, The Wolf interviewed Tualatin High School students, junior Taryn Coulson, senior Vivian Pho, senior Trevor Gray and senior Sierra Kurth, as well as staff members, including IB Physics teacher Christopher Murray and government and economics teacher Tryon Thompson, to share insight into what COVID-19 vaccine experiences have been like for many. 


Q: Please tell me about your COVID-19 vaccine experience. Where did you get your vaccine? How did you sign up to receive your vaccine? Which vaccine did you get? (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen) And finally, did you experience any symptoms afterwards? 

Coulson:My appointment to get the Pfizer vaccine was at the Convention Center in Portland. I signed up through The process was surprisingly easy. I got there expecting to be waiting in a long line, but it ended up only taking me around 45 minutes to go through the whole process. After receiving the vaccine, they asked that everyone wait 15 minutes in this large room before leaving the facility. This is just in case anyone experiences symptoms afterwards. I’ve only gotten the first dose, but so far, I haven’t experienced any symptoms.”

Pho:I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Safeway pharmacy in Clackamas. I was able to set up an appointment through a family friend. The day after, my arm was very sore as if I had been exercising it all day, but that disappeared quickly within the next 24 hours. I did notice a medium patch of slightly red and warm skin, but that too disappeared without any pain or itching. I’ve heard it is common with the Moderna vaccine and is nothing to worry about.” 

Gray: I got my Pfizer vaccine at the Convention Center. The process couldn’t have been easier, and I was in-and-out with a shot in my arm within 30 minutes. I was eligible earlier than most since I live in a high-risk household; two members of my family are active healthcare workers and one is over 80. I received a text confirming my eligibility, and next thing I know, I had an appointment. I’ve received both doses, and the only symptom I had was soreness around the injection site. I was able to go about my daily routine without any difficulty.”

Kurth: “I got both my first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Nike Headquarters. Beyond my arm being sore the day of, I experienced no other symptoms from the first dose and minimal symptoms (tiredness and fever) from the infamous second dose. I simply signed up through ( by answering a few questions to determine my eligibility. However, thankfully, since the 19th of April, anyone over the age of 16 is now deemed eligible to receive the vaccine.”

Murray: Mine was at the Convention Center…the district sent out an email saying that there were appointments available on a certain day, and I signed on and BINGO!! – pretty excited to get that. My wife Shannon works at an elementary school near our house, so she had bravely gone before me. I think she got her two doses before I got mine. The whole thing was like clockwork – very little waiting – I pretty much walked steadily through the line. I got Pfizer, and the first shot made my arm sore, and the second made me get super chills that night, and then I felt like a pork chop the next day.”

Thompson: I also received my vaccine at the Convention Center and I set the appointment up through an email [I got] from the [school] district. The whole experience was amazing, well organized and extremely efficient. I received the Pfizer and had no reaction at all to the first shot, but felt like I had been run over after the second, which surprised me. I thought I was going to be one of the lucky ones and have little effect.”


Q: Why do you think others should get a vaccine?

Coulson:Getting the vaccine not only makes me feel a little safer when going places, but I also know it will contribute to herd immunity. It is essential that when given the opportunity to receive the vaccine people take it!”

Pho: “It’s essential that people get their vaccines so that society can start returning to health and building up immunity against the virus. It doesn’t mean we are invincible, but it is a significant part of being able to, not return to normal, but to push past the pandemic and improve —not only our current situation but also future incidences and technology.”

Gray:While getting the vaccine won’t simply end the pandemic, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Of course, there’s the masks and social distancing, so the vaccine will be an extra layer of protection. I understand that some people may be hesitant or uncertain, but these vaccines have been tested and approved multiple times. This will not only help you, but also your family, others around you, the overwhelmed healthcare providers and the nurses in overrun hospitals. I’m sure everyone’s more than ready to be done with COVID, but the only way we can actually get there is if everyone gets vaccinated.” 

Kurth: “I believe getting the vaccine is important for public and personal safety and is the next big step towards returning back to “normal.”  So book your appointment and get vaccinated! Also one perk of being vaccinated is that you can get a free glazed donut at Krispy Kreme!”

Murray:As to why you should get a vaccine if it is medically possible for you to do so, I think of it this way: your vaccine can save your life, so you should get it, but it’s not as simple as that. Your vaccine can save your parents’ lives, it can save the life of a medical worker, a co-worker, another student or a grocery store employee. We are all in this together, and we need to achieve herd immunity to defeat this virus. Not getting the vaccine is a bit like not darkening your windows during the Blitz of London during WWII. Everyone else is doing it to keep themselves and others safe – and your decision is making everyone else unsafe. It’s about more than just you.”

Thompson: I understand people’s hesitancy to get the vaccine, but the longer the virus spreads the more it will mutate and the more risk there is that it turns into something much more dangerous, and COVID-19 is already dangerous. Getting the vaccine is the fastest way with the least amount of harm for us to achieve herd immunity. It is as simple as that.”

When getting the vaccine, it’s necessary to be aware that one is not considered fully vaccinated (per CDC guidelines) until two weeks after getting all doses of a vaccine (two doses for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and one dose for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine). Even then, it is important that one continues to follow proper safety guidelines such as avoiding visiting indoors, without a mask, with people who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 as well as attending large gatherings.   

Reported daily cases in Oregon continue to trend upwards after the initial decrease since the December-January surge, hitting 1,014 new daily cases on Apr. 23. That is a three-month high since late January. As such, it is especially paramount that individuals remain vigilant and responsible during this critical time.  

For more on what you should know after you get the vaccine, check out Editor-in-Chief Emma J Nelson’s article.
* = the virus that causes COVID-19