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Roll Up Your Sleeves, But Choose Where With Care

By Steve S. Li
By The Crimson Editorial Board
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board.

A day circled on many students’ calendars finally arrived this Monday. On April 19, all Massachusetts residents ages 16 and older became eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine: a shot at regaining our pre-pandemic lives.

This feels like a moment to celebrate, but it’s also a moment to take careful advantage of, and to approach with responsibility and care.

On the one hand, we are excited about the vaccination opportunities that our friends and classmates have already begun to pursue. Each dose administered will help reduce the increasing number of Covid-19 cases amongst young adults and help set the path back to normalcy for the College. These steps are vital for protecting one another and our neighbors in Cambridge.

We are also heartened to witness the enthusiasm with which members of the Cambridge and Boston community have begun to wrap their arms around the vaccine rollout process. Residents are clamoring for the vaccine: Middlesex and Suffolk Counties have exhibited lower rates of vaccine hesitancy than most of the country. While a population eager to be vaccinated is a public health official’s dream, it also means that some residents may have to wait longer than they had hoped to get their first shot — including Harvard students.

In Cambridge especially, the levels of vaccine supply and demand are quite imbalanced. Even as federally run sites in Boston are fueled with resources, Cambridge’s local rollout efforts have been hampered by continued supply shortages. Harvard University Health Services, too, has not received a supply of vaccines that would allow it to make a dent in either the Cambridge or Harvard student population.

We fear that the vaccine dearth falls harder on the marginalized populations of Cambridge than it does on Harvard students, who have the resources, time, and mobility to travel to get vaccinated: While we want our peers to get vaccinated as soon as possible, we do not want this to come at the expense of local residents in surrounding communities — especially low-income areas already suffering from gentrification. Students receiving the vaccine is great news, but students jetting off to take vaccines from communities that need them is not.

To that end, we urge our peers and Cambridge neighbors in pursuit of vaccinations to carefully research the communities that they are entering; to vigilantly consider whose vaccine slots they may be taking up; and, most profoundly, to be mindful in their actions, understanding that vaccine retrieval — while broadly beneficial — can have countervailing effects if not pursued responsibly.

To be sure, college students here and across the country need to be vaccinated as young people continue to drive up infection rates. Ideally, Massachusetts might establish a program like the state of New York recently did, offering vaccine doses directly to both private and public colleges and universities across the state, and HUHS would in turn be able to vaccinate us all soon. But until then, some of us at Harvard may have to bide our time.

So wait your turn, but not a moment past that. And in the meantime, continue adhering to measures that promise to protect you and your loved ones against Covid-19 — from avoiding unnecessary travel to continuing to faithfully don masks. Finally, when the time is right, get ready to roll up your sleeves and join in on the momentum of the statewide rollout.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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