A Shot of Hope

Berkeley students and faculty receive doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on campus

Aryana Makati, Co-Editor in Chief

After reopening the Treasure Cove snacks to students, getting rid of one-way stairwells and returning to the typical Sage lunches, Berkeley takes another step towards a “pre-COVID” school life. On April 15th, students walked through the Gabos doors to receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTec vaccine, a historical moment for the Berkeley community, marking the journey back to “normal”.


“It is hard to predict the future in this regard, or to say what’s ‘normal’ anymore,” Upper Division Director Ryan Jordan said. “With the ongoing leadership and guidance of our Medical Task Force, we do hope to move in the direction of being able to return to a “pre-COVID” campus as much as we safely can.”

NEARLY THERE: Neha Shahrawat ’22 waits in line with her documentation moments before getting the COVID-19 shot.

Prior to receiving the vaccine, Aoife Shannon ’23 explained students were asked to bring a parental consent form if they were below the age of 18, a copy of their insurance card, and a form of identification. Once the nurses confirmed all forms and I.D.s, they handed out record cards to document the vaccination date and when students should receive their second dose, typically on May 6th. They were then given their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine and waited in the Doster for 15 minutes to ensure there were no issues or abnormal reactions to the vaccine. 

CALLING THE SHOTS: Sam Adebonojo ’23 recieves his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Gries Center.

Berkeley faculty had the option to vaccinate on-campus as well. They were able to electronically sign up for a time slot and receive their vaccine at the Jean Ann Cone Library. School nurse Susanna Gonzalez-Cortes explained healthcare professionals served 20 people within a single time slot. Once vaccinated, individuals had to stay for 15 minutes then sign out and return to their usual work.


“[The process] went incredibly smoothly from my perspective,” Upper Division English teacher Daniel Hayes said. “All we had to do was sign up electronically and bring proper documentation.”


Ranging from affliction to apprehension, various feelings were experienced before and after the vaccination process. For Shannon and Lucia Accardi ’23, it was the physical pain of the vaccine itself. 


“My left arm did hurt for two days afterward, and it was like a constant ache even if I wasn’t moving my arm,” Shannon said. “On the second day, especially, I felt a bit sick.” 


Similarly, Accardi claimed her “arm continued to get more and more sore as the day went on.” 


For others, however, emotions were experienced before the vaccine was even given. 


“It’s the anticipation of the pain that torments me,” Hayes said. “Think about it; if you were told you’re going to stub your toe terribly tomorrow at 1:15 PM, it would be all you could think about.”


Berkeley received a lot of help to make the vaccination process run as smoothly as possible. Jordan said the vaccines were made available through a “local dermatologist as a convenience to [the] school community”. Nurse Gonzalez-Cortes and assistant school nurse Karin Reyes and also played a major role in the process.


“We had to coordinate with administration and their physicians, find a location [for the vaccines] and help out with sign-ups and observations during the day,” Gonzalez -Cortes said.

FLORIDA VACCINATION DATA: Approximately 23.81% of Floridians are fully vaccinated. Only 20.02% of Hillsborough County residents have received their second dose. (Data Source: Florida Department of Health)

Adding to the 24% of vaccinated Floridians, Berkeley students and faculty are now a part of the historical movement towards a mask-less future. 


“History runs in our veins,” Hayes said, “and now I have a historical moment [the vaccine] quite literally running through my veins.”


With the vaccination comes hope for the future, and the 0.3 mL Pfizer dose might just give Berkeley the shot of hope and strength it needs to finish out the year in person.