Vaccinated students: some volunteers and healthcare workers are eligible, regardless of age

Students who have been vacci- nated share their expereinces


Mary Alice Russell

COVID-19 vaccinations are the main topic of conversation at Washington and Lee Uni- versity and across the country.

Instagram stories of students, or their parents, getting vaccinated have taken over the platform. It seems as if everyone knows at least one person who has gotten a vaccine, and every story is different.

Elizabeth Herman, ’22, got her vaccine Jan. 22.

“I was able to get the vaccine because I volunteer at Project Horizon which is a local domestic violence shelter downtown,” Herman said. “They were initially in one of the lower phases, but they were able to lobby the governor’s office and get moved up.”

Herman, a member of the Bonner program, said she is looking forward to getting her sec- ond dose.

“I really want to be able to engage with dif- ferent clients at Project Horizon and not be concerned. Especially because some of them, due to various traumas, might not be able to wear a mask, so it will make me feel a lot safer volunteering,” she said.

Herman got the Moderna vaccine and said that she had no symptoms besides a sore arm.

Other students have had some side effects after getting the shot.

“The first dose, I actually felt really bad afterwards,” said Jillian Gallardo, ’23. “I don’t want to say that to scare people, but I had some pretty bad flu like symptoms, but not anything too out of the ordinary that would make it not worth it,”

Gallardo got her first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Jan. 11 and her second on Feb. 11. She was eligible because of her volunteer work with Campus Kitchen.

After getting her second vaccine, Gallardo said that she experienced fatigue and her arm grew sore within a few hours.

The risk of detrimental side effects are too great for Lexi Minutillo, ‘22, who had breath- ing problems after getting the flu vaccine and tetanus shot in 2020.

“Because this vaccine is so new, my family and I decided that I should wait until a little more research has been done on people that have such severe allergies,” Minutillo said.

Minutillo works in healthcare as a certified nursing assistant at Shenandoah Health and Rehab in Buena Vista.

Because of her work, she has been offered the vaccine four times – twice in Virginia and twice in her home state of Connecticut.

Even though Minutillo does not feel comfortable getting the vaccine herself, the major- ity of patients and workers in her facility have gotten the vaccine.

“I wouldn’t say it’s back to normal, but I work nights so it might be different than work- ing during the day, but the residents don’t have to wear masks in their room at the moment and they are starting up activities again,” Minutillo said.

When going to her 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, Minutillo still puts on an N95 mask and gown and so do the other nurses.

As of Feb. 9, there were no COVID-19 cases in the facility, according to Minutillo.

Minutillo says that she still gets tested twice a week to make sure she doesn’t bring the vi- rus into work.

Other students on Washington and Lee’s campus would fight for the chance to get the vaccine. Katherine Berman, ’22, is one of those people.

Berman was notified by her pediatrician that she qualified to get the vaccine, but there is one small problem. Her vaccine was in Houston, Texas.

“At first I was so excited because I really want to get vaccinated and I really feel that is the best way to help stop the spread and get our entire community immu- nized,” Berman said. “But then I was pretty sad when I realized I would have to fly home to Texas to get the vaccine because even if I could miss class or do virtual class I would have to quarantine upon our ar- rival back in Virginia even though I would have been vaccinated.”

She said she would have to fly back to Texas to get the second dose. “It’s just too many different logistic pieces to deal with, but it’s a sad, unfortunate position,” Berman said.

Berman said she thinks she was placed into the 1b category in Texas because of her exer- cise induced Asthma.

She said that most of her family has gotten vaccinated.

“All my grandparents, both my grandmas and my grandpa, my uncle, my aunt, my mom, my dad. So it’s a little hard to watch everyone I know get vaccinated,” she said. Now she is just waiting for her turn.

When Berman and the rest of Washington and Lee University students can get vacci- nated remains up in the air, but she said the promise of a healthier world is so tempting.

“I think the more people we can get vacci- nated the better and the faster we can get out of the COVID world,” Berman said.