Caroline Simpson ’22
The process of vaccinating Mercersburg Academy students has begun. It was initiated by the school’s current medical director, Dr. Nathan Derstine. He located Norland Pharmacy in Chambersburg, which has a supply of Pfizer vaccines.
Laura Nickerson, Director of Health and Wellness Services, said, “We are very limited as most of our student body is under 18 years of age and can only receive the Pfizer vaccine, which had been very hard to find.”
After contacting the owner of the pharmacy, Mercersburg was able to bring vaccinations to campus for students 16-years-old or older. On Wednesday April 21, students received the first dose of the vaccine during their free rotations from school nurses and members of Norland Pharmacy.
The second dose of the vaccine will not be available until May 12. Nickerson said, “Unfortunately the impact of the vaccine will be minimal on this term.” The second dose of vaccine comes so late in the year that it would be difficult to adjust school policy, so Nickerson believes that it will have the most impact on students’ travels home, making their trips easier and safer. Nickerson hopes that by the beginning of the fall term of 2021 “the FDA will approve vaccination for younger students and we can return with less restrictions.”
Students from all grades are excited about getting the vaccine and hopeful about its effects on the rest of the spring term. “I don’t think it will change life at school much. We will still have to follow the rules and make sure we don’t put anybody in danger,” said Stanley Fang ’21, “However, I will feel a lot more at ease knowing that I have a lower chance of contracting COVID.”
The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine will positively affect life outside of school as well. Chen, who lives in China, said, “It might be easier for me to fly across the world when I am vaccinated and might not have to quarantine.” Students are pleased that with the vaccine, they will not put their families at risk when they return home in June. Fang, a resident of Hong Kong, said, “Vaccines are not as accessible back home, so the school is helping me a lot by providing this opportunity.”
Jo Wrzesinsky, the Dean of Students, said, “There are so many people—board members, employees, medical experts, and so on—who have given countless hours to get this as close to ‘right’ as possible. When you really think about the effort and sacrifice that has gone into this year by ALL of our community members it’s amazing. It speaks volumes about how much everyone cares about the school and wants us to be able to be together.”
COVID-19 has notably changed the Mercersburg community, but student vaccinations bring Mercersburg one step closer to returning to normal.