By Lawrence Price III
Last summer might have been a blur for Detroiters like it was, for the most part, the rest of America and the world.
With COVID-19 still shutting down huge segments of the population, summer was a bit like a continuation of the winter season with quarantine still in full effect back then.
But, thankfully, a lot has changed since last summer when it comes to COVID-19 for Detroiters. Businesses have since opened back up, people are gathering, (Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is lifting Michigan’s remaining mask rules on Tuesday), and a vaccine is here with more on the way.
As of Friday, June 18, about 60 percent of Michiganders have received the COVID-19 vaccine, and through the state’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan (released in April), Whitmer is moving the needle forward “to push toward its goal of vaccinating 70% of Michiganders ages 16 years or older.”
Now, the recommended age for people to take the vaccine is ages 12 and up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not everyone is on board with the vaccine though, including Wayne State University rising junior Jalen Lewis who is still not sold on it yet.
“I simply don’t trust it and what they put in it, and I don’t think I will need it,” Lewis said. “If you are like me where you don’t really interact or deal with a lot of people, and you have not caught COVID, there is really no purpose of you getting the vaccine.”
Like many students, the Detroiter stayed home for his sophomore year of college. Tying this into the entrepreneurial work that does not require him to be around a high volume of people, and he stands as one of the few left in his family to not get it. He does plan on returning to an in-person class in the fall.
“Space the classrooms out, make more classes, disinfect the classrooms, do whatever you have to do but I do not feel like anybody should be required to take a vaccine,” Lewis said.
University of Michigan (U-M) rising sophomore Ryan Noble agreed that the vaccine should not be a requisite, but he did get it for personal reasons.
“I took the vaccine because I am trying to go back to campus, plus I am moving to Ann Arbor permanently in the fall, so it is in my best interest to do it,” Noble said. “I did not think a lot of people would get it, but now COVID cases are going down, so I definitely feel like it is proven.”
After U-M’s April mandate requiring students living on campus next fall term to be vaccinated, Noble went ahead and got his first and second doses of Pfizer. He was able to get the vaccine at the same time as his mother, side by side (and hand in hand) during both appointments.
After taking Pfizer as well, Winston Coffee, a college success coach of metro-Detroit’s Midnight Golf Program, advised people to do their research before deciding on whether to take it.
“Historically there has been a lot of negative connotations surrounding the experiments and other things that have gone on in relation to people of color, particularly African Americans, around those things like the Tuskegee experiment, etc.,” Coffee said.
Those past encounters still serve as a reason behind why some Black Detroiters are not getting the vaccine.
“We are not privy to a lot of information surrounded around what goes into making these vaccines and how long they have been working and the purpose of them,” Coffee said.
With health professionals in her family and her own research, Northwestern University rising senior Janea Wilson knew early on that she wanted to receive the vaccine, and that is exactly what she did and received her first dose back in March.
“I knew people who have been vaccinated before I was and had seen their reactions and it wasn’t something that was really taxing on them and I also knew a lot about how the vaccine was developed,” Wilson said.
Alongside her own analysis, Wilson conversed with her aunt, a doctor, who explained to her the research behind the coronaviruses and the technicalities she felt would be hard to explain without a science background. This led her to return home from campus to get vaccinated.
“The sickness that you deal with for a day or two after getting it is nothing compared to getting COVID,” Wilson said. “I want to do my part in making sure that the people around me are safe, that I am not posing a risk with them and I think getting vaccinated is just one step closer to herd immunity.”