The Light at the End of the Pandemic


After a year living with the Covid-19 pandemic, the vaccine is finally here, and some members of the extended Williston family have already gotten it.

On December 22, Lauren Shatz, an ophthalmologist from Northampton, Mass., received his first dose of the Covid vaccine and his second dose January 12. Shatz is the father of Nathan ’21 and Adam ’23.

As a healthcare worker who works with the elderly at both Mercy and Baystate Hospital, he was in the top priority group to receive the vaccine.

Shatz told The Willistonian that by getting the vaccine, he’s doing his part to get the world back to normal.

“I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Shatz said. “Covid can kill you and I don’t want to die. Also, I do not want to infect my family or my patients. Getting as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible is the best way out of this mess,” he added. “I believe that if everyone who is eligible gets a vaccine then things will go back to normal.”

Shatz believes that everyone should get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. In the vaccine’s trials and for all the people who have received it so far, it has been effective. However, Shatz recognizes that not all groups were included in studies.

“Everyone for which the vaccine was deeded safe and effective,” he explained. “This includes the groups of people that were included in the initial FDA trials.”  Children and pregnant women were not included in trials, Shatz said.

Stephanie O’Keefe, a recreation therapist who works at the Federal Veterans Affairs Medical Center in West Haven, Connecticut, has also received both doses of the Covid vaccine.

Since O’Keefe —  Grace O’Keefe’s ’21 mother — works with a group of high risk patients, when the vaccine became available she was deemed a top priority candidate.

“I’ve worked at the VA for 30 years in geriatrics and oncology, [and] because those are two vulnerable populations, they want to get me back up and running in person so I can continue to work with those populations,” she said.

According to O’Keefe, getting or not getting the vaccine is a very personal choice. She feels it is not her place to judge someone in their decision to get the vaccine, because she understands there are many factors in play.

“I think that it’s a personal decision,” she said. “No two people are the same, everyone is unique with unique circumstances. I think all those things weigh in to the decision of getting the vaccine. I can’t judge someone if they decide not to get it.”

The first recorded case of Covid-19 in America was in January 2020. Every since then, more than 400,000 people  have died from the virus. On Monday, November 9, 2020, Pfizer announced that they had created a vaccine that was 90% effective. On December 8, 2020, in the UK, Margaret Keenan was the first person in the world to receive the vaccine.

One of President Biden’s plans upon taking office January 20 was to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.