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Vaccination for High School Students in South Korea
Written by Sejung Park | Published. 2021.09.08 16:38 | Count : 168

In February 2020, the pandemic of COVID-19 landed in Korea. Since then, my life, which had never seemed to change, turned in ways I had never thought of before. Everyday life in a chaotic, crowded classroom and hallway was gone all of a sudden. Because of COVID-19, schools closed their doors and moved classes online alongside the government guideline, advising people to socially distance themselves. Some students had trouble following up on academics because of the absence of schools for quite an extended period because students had to study with their own plan without school telling them to do certain tasks.  Following the COVID-19 social distancing policy, small businesses like restaurants or cafes had to shorten operating hours. This led to reduced earnings, which eventually ended up in reduced part-time jobs. Everyday lives of society as a whole were damaged.   

Much time has passed since the outbreak. However, the increase in the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases didn't seem to settle down. It continued to increase and fluctuate until the following year, starting in my last year of high school with social distancing and face masks. Everything was different, going to school with COVID-19.

A few months after I had heard about many pharmaceutical companies experimenting with vaccines for COVID-19, in December 2020, the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. The Korean government announced a vaccination plan not long after the approval, starting with medical staff and healthcare workers, and then elderly citizens. Next, it was high-school seniors who would take the Korean SAT, teachers, and school staff. The Ministry of Education surveyed students and teachers on their willingness to accept the vaccine. The students who consented to get the vaccines were 97.8%, and the teachers who agreed were 95.7%. Around June, my high school gave out papers informing us of the vaccination date of our school. Most of my friends said that they would get the shot with no concerns, such as drawbacks mentioned on the internet, others having anxieties or suspicions about it.

Image of COVID-19 vaccination information, Credit to Sejung Park

On the day the school assigned us to get the shot, I arrived at the vaccination center with my leg shaking slightly, feeling nothing but nervousness. At the entry, there was a large banner that pointed the way to the entrance. On my way to the main door, I was able to look at the scenery of the vaccination center. It was very expansive and seemed environmentally friendly, with all the trees and flowers along the entry road. When I was close enough to the entrance, the volunteer staff kindly guided me the exact way to the building. I presented my ID card to the staff and officially checked in. After I got back my ID card with a few extra papers, I proceeded inside.

Inside of the regional vaccination center, Credit to Sejung Park

As I entered the main area where the vaccination was in process, I acknowledged that the building was a gym. It was divided into three sections: one for pre-examining health, another seats and booths for waiting for the vaccine, and the other seats for people to stay to check if there were any unusual health problems with the components in the vaccine after the vaccination. First, I was assigned to a doctor to be pre-examined before the vaccination, whether I had any medications or chronic illnesses [to determine if there is any reason I should not get the vaccine today.] The shot was better than I had expected. Many people had said that I would need some acetaminophen after the injection or suffer from chills or muscle pain.  However, I only felt a little bit dizzy.

Image of me getting a shot, Credit to Sejung Park

On my way out, my friends and I talked about the positive changes that COVID-19 brought us. We were able to raise awareness on challenges against novel infectious diseases. Trivial actions such as washing hands more often and using hand sanitizer after using crowded multiplex facilities can work as a defense in first hand. Also, it was an opportunity to contemplate the importance of public and private health care systems.

The Ministry of Education has announced that 51.8% of all highschool seniors and teachers have been vaccinated so far, and even more people are getting vaccinated now. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), getting the vaccine can keep you from being infected or spreading the COVID-19 virus and help if you get the virus. It can also protect people around you. With everyone fully vaccinated, I hope to return to the everyday life that I used to have as soon as possible.

 

 








Sejung Park (박세정)
Grade 12
Daegu Namsan High School

Sejung Park  hsr@dherald.com

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