With Delta variant cases rising, here’s how and when to get the vaccine in time for the start of classes

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As July wanes and the start of the school year on September 13 inches increasingly nearer, students and teachers alike are getting ready to return to fully in-person classes. Yet, as the pandemic rages on, the return to normalcy may be marred

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) is making an effort to set up mobile vaccination sites in areas with a heavy family and children presence, block parties, and ad campaigns among other methods to push for eligible minors to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to a DOE official. The city is also working in conjunction with pediatricians to reach parents and encourage them to get their children vaccinated. 

For those in the Townsend Harris community planning to get the vaccine prior to the return to school, The Classic has prepared a guide on how to be inoculated in time for the fall. Students and faculty alike can help slow the spread of the virus by making sure they are fully vaccinated. If you fall into one of the following categories, here’s what you need to know:

THHS Faculty

By mid-September, city municipal workers, including teachers, will be required to provide proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID tests to continue working, according to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. 

If you are planning on getting the Pfizer vaccine, it is recommended to get your first dose by August 9.  If you are planning on getting the Moderna vaccine, it is encouraged to get your first dose by August 2.  If you are planning on getting the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, you should aim to get your shot by August 30 to be fully immune by the first day of school.

THHS Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors

Currently, only the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has been approved for emergency use for those under 18, from ages 12 and up. To be considered fully vaccinated according to CDC guidelines, the vaccine must be administered in a five week gap, which includes a three week gap between the first and second doses followed by an additional two weeks after the second shot. School starts on September 13, so if you plan on getting vaccinated by this time, aim to receive your first dose by August 9.

THHS Seniors

On May 10, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that all CUNY students must be vaccinated against the Coronavirus to be permitted on campus. According to an email sent on July 23 to the rising senior class from Assistant Principal of Guidance Veronica York, seniors will be enrolled in the mandatory Humanities Seminar at Queens College in-person and on the campus and will therefore need to be vaccinated to access the campus. 

Regarding the announcement of the vaccine mandate for Queens College on campus classes, Assistant Principal Rafal Olechowski said, “To the best of my knowledge, there is a mandate for Queens College, because it’s an independent institution from us.” However, he said he will be speaking with Principal Brian Condon about how this mandate relates to DOE policy, which currently does not require the vaccine for students to attend in person classes. The Classic will follow up with Mr. Condon as well. 

Nonetheless, for seniors who plan to be vaccinated for the start of QC classes, while the fall 2021 semester begins on August 25, all first sessions will be online, according to an email sent out by the College Preparatory Program on July 23. To get vaccinated before the start of the semester, the double dose Pfizer vaccine is the only one available for students under 18, encompassing most of the senior class. The Pfizer vaccine immunization process totals to five weeks. If you happen to be 18 or older, you are also eligible for the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a six week and two week immunization process, respectively. To be vaccinated in time for the start of in-person QC classes, it is recommended to get the first dose as soon as possible, ideally by the end of this week. 

How and Where to get the Vaccine and Other Important Information

Anyone over the age of 18 is able to make walk-in appointments at their local pharmacy alone. Minors under the age of 18 can get the vaccine with verbal consent of a parent or guardian in person or by phone. Minors between the ages of 12-15 must arrive at their appointment accompanied by a parent or guardian. All city-run sites will accept written parental consent, though verbal consent is preferred. You can find the most convenient location for yourself at https://www.vaccines.gov/search/. Most vaccination providers only allow you to schedule appointments online.  It is recommended to schedule your second vaccination at the time you receive your first dose, but not required. You can also contact the location that set up your first appointment to schedule your second.

Before attending your vaccination appointment make sure you comply with these pre-vaccination requirements: 

  • Have proof of age and identity.
  • Complete the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Form before your appointment.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Reschedule if you are feeling ill or exhibit any symptoms of the coronavirus. 

Up until August 13, vaccines provided by the DOE will be available at multiple Summer Rising locations from 9 AM – 4 PM. To look up which vaccinations are open depending on the day, visit this link.

Below is a list of general vaccination sites, but different ones are open depending on the day:

  • Fort Hamilton High School (8301 Shore Road, Brooklyn)
  • Herbert H. Lehman High School (3000 East Tremont Avenue, Bronx)
  • Susan E. Wagner High School (1200 Manor Road, Staten Island)
  • Long Island City High School (14-30 Broadway, Queens)
  • Health Professions High School (345 East 15th Street, Manhattan)
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt High School (5800 20 Avenue, Brooklyn)
  • Jerome Parker Campus (100 Essex Drive, Staten Island)
  • Bronx High School of Science (75 West 205 Street, Bronx)
  • Bayside High School (32-24 Corporal Kennedy Street, Queens)
  • Seward Park High School (350 Grand Street, Manhattan)
  • New Utrecht High School 1601 80 Street, Brooklyn)
  • Dewitt Clinton High School (100 West Mosholu Parkway South, Bronx)
  • Curtis High School (105 Hamilton Avenue, Staten Island)
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo High School (57-00 223rd Street, Queens)
  • Park West High School (525 West 50th Street, Manhattan)
  • Sunset Park High School (153 35th Street, Brooklyn)
  • Adlai E. Stevenson Educational Campus (1980 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn)
  • John Bowne High School (63-25 Main Street, Queens)
  • New Dorp High School (465 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island)
  • City-As-School (250 West Houston Street, Manhattan)
  • James Madison High School (3787 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn)
  • Christopher Columbus High School (925 Astor Avenue, Bronx)
  • Forest Hills High School (67-01 110 Street, Queens)
  • Gregorio Luperon Prep. School (501 West 165th Street, Manhattan)
  • I.S. 49 (101 Warren Street, Staten Island)

Evaluating the Options 

Although restrictions around the state have laxed, COVID-19 is still spreading rapidly. Before school reopens, receiving a vaccine shot is optimal to prevent yourself from contracting the virus. The three most popular vaccinesPfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson — have all been granted emergency approval by the FDA. Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines requiring two doses, while the Johnson and Johnson vaccine uses disabled adenovirus and can be entirely administered with a single shot. 

Though some vaccines may contain a pathogen or a part of it, mRNA vaccines introduce the genetic instructions to equip the host’s cells for the production of viral proteins to instigate and bolster an immune system response. The genetic code embedded in the mRNA serves as a “WANTED” poster for your immune system to recognize the virus that causes COVID-19, demanding vigilance and preparedness. 

Disabled adenovirus vaccines, on the other hand, follow the more traditional route of virus-based vaccines. The adenovirus is altered such that it cannot make you fall ill, replicate, or integrate itself into your DNA. For the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a bit of the COVID virus is inserted into the genetic code of the adenovirus, which when entering your cells, forms a spike protein recognized by the immune system such that it starts to make antibodies for it. 

Efficacy Rates

Pfizer-BioNTech:

The Pfizer vaccine is 93.7 percent effective against the original COVID-19 after two doses. Meanwhile, it has demonstrated an 88 percent efficacy against the Delta variant. 

Moderna:

The Moderna vaccine is 94.1 percent effective against the original COVID-19. Studies have shown the vaccine to be 72 percent effective against the Delta variant. 

Johnson and Johnson:

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is 66.3 percent effective against the original COVID-19. More studies are necessary to determine the vaccine’s efficacy against the Delta variant. 

Studies have shown that among the people who contracted the Delta variant, the vast majority were unvaccinated. 

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