All Oregonians 16 years and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. With Clackamas Community College set to go back to some in-person learning in the fall,  students need to consider the vaccination. 

With the reintroduction of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, three vaccinations are in circulation. 

There are two Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, one made by Pfizer and the other by Moderna. The mRNA vaccines work by teaching the body to recognize and respond to proteins produced by the virus. According to Polly Schulz, a biology instructor at Clackamas Community College, “These types of vaccines are effective because they mimic what would happen if someone would get the virus and how their immune system would react without putting the person at risk.” 

If a vaccinated person were to get exposed to the COVID-19, the antibodies present in their body would recognize the proteins of the virus and destroy the virus before it causes illness. 

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is a viral vector vaccine, is also based on the virus’s genetic instructions for building the spike protein, but unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine stores the information in double-stranded DNA. 

Sylvia Kibiru, a student at Portland State University and a nurse’s assistant at Providence,  remembers a time when patients with COVID-19  would not leave the ICU alive and urges all to get the vaccine. 

“If you get the vaccine you are protecting yourself and others especially when you are working in the medical field,” she said. 

Paul Kamau Mwangi, former Clackamas student and registered nurse at the Oregon State Hospital, thinks that the future looks bright, but until then we should stick to tried and true methods that help slow the spread of the virus; wear a mask, limit group sizes, keep distance, wash hands, and stay home when sick. 

So how does one get a COVID-19 vaccination in Oregon? The first step is to use the Get Vaccinated Oregon tool. This tool will help you know if you are currently eligible to get the vaccine, and you can sign up to receive vaccine eligibility updates. With an account on this tool you can find a vaccination provider. With a Get Vaccinated Oregon account you can set up text or email notifications to get notifications about locations that have open appointments. You can also call 211 or text ORCOVID to 898211.

Once vaccinated, immunity is not immediate; full immunity from the vaccination happens about two weeks after the final dose of the vaccine. Although researchers do not know how long the vaccine’s protection might last, they do believe that the vaccines are the key to achieving community immunity from COVID-19 and making that return to normalcy a reality.

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Margaret Wamuyu Gichachi