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Reopening Spotlight • July 20, 2021

How the COVID-19 Vaccine Changed This St. Louis County Teen’s Life

Do you remember your senior year of high school? The last football game, Homecoming, senior trips, and dancing with friends at Prom.

These are memories that graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 mostly missed out on. Instead of picking out photos for their lockers, our kids were picking out Zoom backgrounds for their online class.

When the pandemic uprooted the foundations of our daily lives – work schedules, daily activities, the ability to see family and friends – it left an equally big mark on the lives of our teens. 

For students like Kate McLaughlin, Webster Groves High School 2021 graduate, the fact that senior year looked so radically different was tough to accept. Even after Webster Groves switched to a hybrid-model of learning, she still experienced anxiety over getting COVID-19 from her peers and spreading it to her loved ones. 

That changed when the vaccine arrived. 

While she said the vaccine felt like it came “seemingly out of thin air, I know immense time, effort, and coordination took place to make the vaccines a reality,” McLaughlin said in an Op-Ed. “Getting the vaccine was an easy decision for me. I think part of this was because I’ve gotten vaccines my whole life — for measles, polio, etc. – so to address this life-threatening virus with a proven vaccine, felt normal to me.”

Today, Kate is vaccinated and feels comfortable seeing friends and family without the fear of spreading the virus to any vulnerable people she interacts with. 

And things are looking up from Senior year. She’ll be able to attend college at Loyola University Chicago in-person and experience a real freshman year, a reality she didn’t believe possible until vaccines were released. 

Right now, we have the opportunity to ensure the next class of teens in their most memorable years get to have the experiences that Kate’s class missed. Kids as young as 12 can get the Pfizer vaccine and can do their part to ensure the health and safety of their friends, families, and classmates. The vaccine is safe and effective. To learn more and find the nearest vaccination clinic near you click here.