Editorial | Vaccinations do not constitute immortality

As the spring semester begins, students are more anxious than ever for a return to normalcy. For many, vaccines appear to be the catalyst.

However, it is worth remembering that a vaccine is not a free ticket to break University and state guidelines with impunity. 

Similar to how the initial refusal to adhere to a state lockdown has prolonged the pandemic, the situation will only be exacerbated if students use the vaccine as an immediate means to end mask-wearing and social distancing. The idea that one could be vaccinated from the virus and still compelled to isolate is infuriating, but the extra patience is required in order to promptly revive society.

The reminder to socially distance through the semester is especially important given the odd decision made by the University to cancel Spring Break. This way, students supposedly will stay on campus all semester, but also that students will be on campus during St. Patrick’s Day, something the administration has been trying to avoid for years given the students’ exuberant observance of the holiday.

Health experts recommend that compliance with pandemic guidelines continue until the threshold of “herd immunity” is attained, when enough of the population is vaccinated that the spread of the virus is severely stunted. Epidemiologist and now household name Dr. Anthony Fauci estimates that “herd immunity” will be realized once 75% of the populace has been properly inoculated.

Because of this high margin, it is extremely important for every student to get vaccinated once they have the opportunity and for them to encourage loved ones to do so responsibly as well. The sooner the process occurs, the sooner small businesses can reopen and the hardship can end.

Furthermore, reports suggest the problem is not the production of vaccines but rather the solicitation of vaccination from people. The media has written countless stories on vaccine doses sitting around in hospitals and warehouses, waiting for arms in which to be injected. Even if you’re unsure if it is your turn for the vaccine, it is worth checking if there are available vaccination times.

As an Illini, remember to get tested frequently (with the University threatening heightened penalties for those who refuse) and to continue the standard precautions we have become cozy with these past few months.

The production of vaccines at a miracle pace certainly deserves celebration — but not until the fat lady sings. The vaccine provides us with a light at the end of the tunnel but a hasty pursuit of it would prove counterproductive.

Get vaccinated, be patient just a little while longer and soon enough we’ll be gathered and hugging (not touching elbows) and watching the fireworks in the sky on the Fourth of July.