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Commentary: What The COVID-19 Vaccine Means To One Local 16-Year-Old

Nick Stewart is sitting indoors and in front of a laptop. He is looking toward the camera with one hand to the side of his face. There is a blue surgical mask set next to his laptop.
Nick Stewart
KUNR Youth Media
KUNR Youth Media reporter Nick Stewart at his home in Sparks, Nev., on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

As of Monday, all Nevadans 16 and older are eligibleto receive the COVID-19 vaccine. KUNR Youth Media reporter Nick Stewart shares this commentary about why he’s looking forward to getting the vaccine.

Ever since the virus first began to affect my friends, family and my own life, I was just always wondering, and wondering, when things would get better, when I’d be able to see my friends again, [and] when I’d be able to see family again. I was just always in a state of wonder.

In 2020, I went months without seeing my friends and that took a toll on my mental health. I just felt so alone all the time. I knew that I was making the right decision to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt me to do it. Now that the Pfizer vaccine is becoming available to my age group, I’m working to make sure that I get the vaccine as soon as possible. I want to be able to help our state, or even our country, to reach herd immunity.

I faced criticism from quite a few people about my decision to get the vaccine. Some have told me that we don’t know the long-term effects of the vaccine, [and] some have even told me that I would be injecting poison into my body. While at first I was skeptical about the vaccine, I trust the scientists. If it means I will be able to go to school every day, go see friends and family more often, go to concerts and not have to worry about contracting the virus, then I’m going to take that vaccine.

I’m hoping by this summer, I’ll be able to have my 17th birthday without needing to take so many precautions. I also hope that I’ll have a normal senior year. I want to be able to go to homecoming, prom, and then I want to have a normal graduation ceremony. While I’m still uncertain that we’ll reach that point, I think these vaccines have given me a lot more hope than what I had, say, a year ago.

Nick Stewart is a junior at the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno. KUNR’s Youth Media program partners with the Washoe County School District to train the next generation of journalists.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine in Nevada here.

Nick Stewart is a former student reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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