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The COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed through a phase or tier system indicating those eligible for it. The vaccination process favors certain groups of people before others due to factors like occupation, age and risk-factor.

Massachusetts has a three-phase COVID-19 vaccination schedule. This timeline began in December 2020, and the third phase is estimated to begin in April 2021.

The first phase was distributed in December 2020 to a select group of individuals starting in order of those at the highest priority. The distribution began with clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers performing direct and COVID-facing care. Next were long-term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities. Then, first responders, congregate care settings, home-based health workers, and healthcare workers doing non-COVID-facing care.

The second phase is estimated to be distributed from February through March of this year. This phase is broken up into groups: Group 2 and Group 3. The distribution will begin with Group 2, which consists of individuals age 75 and over. Next, Group 3 begins with individuals age 65 and over and then spans to a larger range of people. This includes educators, sanitation workers, public health workers, meatpackers, court system workers, funeral workers, medical supply chain workers, and shipping port and terminal workers.

The third and final phase is estimated to be distributed beginning in April 2021. This phase is intended to be distributed to the general public. More specially, this phase allows higher education workers, bottled beverage industry workers, veterinarians, and those not covered in the second phase to now be eligible for the vaccination.

I was lucky enough to interview two Northeastern University students who had received the vaccine. Second-year students Allie Cauchon, studying behavioral neuroscience, and Zachary Stolbery, studying bioengineering and biochemistry, shared their experiences.

Both students received the vaccination at the end of January 2021 due to the co-op internship program held through Northeastern University. The co-op program is a six-month class-free period during which students work full-time in a job relating to a field of their interests. Allie Cauchon (Northeastern ‘23) received the vaccination through Arbour Hospital, the inpatient psychiatric hospital she works for. Zachary Stolbery (Northeastern ‘23) received the vaccination through Northeastern University’s health center due to his work as an EMT.

Both students recall the vaccination process to be simple due to the efficiency of the locations where they received it. Allie Cauchon (Northeastern ‘23) recalls the process and stated, “Arbour made it really simple, they used curtains to set up a vaccination area in the cafeteria (which is not used for dining during COVID) and had the nursing supervisors distributing the fact sheets and vaccination cards, as well as administering the vaccines and monitoring us for the 15-minute window afterwards.” Zachary Stolbery (Northeastern ‘23) had a similar experience through Northeastern University’s health center. He stated feeling minor pain after receiving the shot and his conditions being monitored for the same 15-minute window.

Both students highly recommend others to receive the vaccination for those without contraindications and when eligible. Both students also reported a feeling of relief after receiving the vaccination. Zachary Stolbery (Northeastern ‘23) stated, “Receiving the vaccine has just eased my stress slightly. I now know that I am much less likely to get the virus, and it feels like a weight lifted off my chest.” Allie Cauchon (Northeastern ‘23) stated, “Being vaccinated definitely provides me with a little more peace of mind than I had last semester. I am still diligent about wearing masks, getting tested, and social distancing, but knowing I am likely to be protected if I am exposed at my job or anywhere else in the city is a relief.”

After over a year into a global pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccination serves as a glimpse of hope to a return of a normal way of life.


Northeastern University Student Interviews: Allie Cauchon and Zachary Stolbery


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