WHEELERSBURG — Rachel Davenport is a 17-year-old junior at Wheelersburg High School. She does a lot of things typical for girls her age: She stays active in extracurriculars, is an avid reader and has a love for musicals. She’s also among the first Ohio minors vaccinated against COVID-19.
It’s a shot she was actually excited to get.
“I really wanted to get the COVID vaccine,” she said. “As teenagers, we may not be able to vote but we can still make a difference. We can do our part by getting the vaccine and being an example for our community. Even if people my age aren’t considered ‘at-risk,’ there’s still a lot of people relying on us to get the vaccine.”
For some, the decision of whether to be vaccinated isn’t an easy one. It’s made even harder by the prevalence of conspiracy theories and misinformation. For Rachel, her choice came after countless hours of research and family discussion. For those who are hesitant, she recommends they follow the same process.
“I have a family that encourages debate and critical thinking,” she explained. “We read the articles. We looked at the facts. It became very clear that getting the vaccine was the best option.”
Like most people, the shadow of COVID-19 has touched almost every part of her life. Her sophomore year was interrupted by the pandemic, and she spent most of her junior year attending class online in her bedroom. It was even there when she picked out a dress for prom and started looking for a mask to match.
She’s been supportive of these measures as a temporary necessity, but she’s hopeful that they won’t play as big of a role in her senior year. She knows the only way that will happen is if enough people are vaccinated against COVID-19 – and she is willing to do her part.
“What I look forward to the most is just being able to have a normal senior year,” Rachel said. “High school is only four years and I’ve already had two affected by COVID. I’d love it if enough people were vaccinated that life could start returning to normal.”
In the last year, COVID-19 has resulted in fewer fans at sporting events, in-person competitions being held virtually and some events being canceled altogether. Although she’s eager to put these precautions in the past, she maintains a sense of perspective about the pandemic.
“I think I’ve been lucky that I wasn’t affected more by COVID,” she said. “I still got to go in to school. I got to have a mock trial season, a tennis season, a quiz bowl season… The pandemic made it a little different, but we still got to have it. There’s a lot of people that have had their lives ended by COVID.”
Hopefully, enough people will get vaccinated to put that in the past, too.
Southern Ohio Medical Center is now offering COVID vaccines to everyone 16 years and older. Only Pfizer is currently available for those under the age of 18. To schedule your appointment, call 740-356-CARE.