I am so sick of writing articles about this pandemic.

Here’s my story: A few months ago, I job-shadowed a local company after staying at home for a long time. I’ve been reluctant about job-shadowing all year; I put it off until the last minute because I didn’t want to get sick. And even though everyone was wearing masks, I ended up getting ill with something that’s unlike anything I’ve ever had before. And then, I found out that almost everyone else got sick. Some tested positive for COVID.

Then, I went to urgent care, and they gave me two tests – a rapid test and a lab test. Both came back negative. My symptoms were brutal; I had a bad cough, 103.5°F fever, nausea, congestion, difficulty breathing, a sore throat, and constant fatigue. At urgent care, they told me that people my age with corona have excessively high fevers. They also never prescribed me anything, though. I was on quarantined bed rest for about a week after that.

Since nothing got better, I went to urgent care again. The doctor did some of the typical things – blood pressure, checking my heartbeat, etc. – and told me that I had to get an X-ray. So, I did, and it turns out I had walking pneumonia in my right lung – a common illness associated with COVID-19. They prescribed me two medications and told me to keep drinking lots of fluids and keep coughing.

I had pneumonia for about a week after that and went to my physician for a follow-up. He told me that all of my former symptoms were directly associated with COVID and that he would be willing to “bet (his) life savings that I had corona.” He then advised me to wait two to three weeks and get a COVID antibody test.

A couple of weeks go by, so I get one of the test kits. The kit was quite simple; I had to prick my finger, collect a blood sample in a pipette, mix the blood with sample buffer, and wait fifteen minutes. As it would turn out, I was positive for both immunoglobulins associated with COVID. Immunoglobulin M forms when the body begins fighting an infection, and Immunoglobulin G takes time to develop. The latter of the two immunoglobulins is arguably the more important one – it protects from future infection.

According to studies conducted by the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, natural immunity from COVID-19 lasts for six to seven months, and that 20-30% of people who were infected shed this immunity after that timeframe. We don’t know how long this immunity lasts with the vaccine yet, though.

So, I’m going to get the vaccine as soon as I can this summer. I would get it right away, but I just had an appointment to get my first of two Meningitis B shots on Monday, and they say you have to wait two to four weeks after that to get the corona shot. Additionally, I would like to reserve slots for people who may need it more than I do since I already have a temporary natural immunity. Thankfully, no one else I came in contact with throughout the time I was sick ended up getting sick or spreading it.

The moral of this story is that there shouldn’t be any requirements for students to do things that might spread illnesses in the middle of a pandemic. Graduation requirements such as job shadowing and community service raise this risk significantly for students. Not to mention, other school-sponsored and non-school-sponsored activities will drive an increased risk of spreading infection. Why risk people’s lives when we don’t have to? I know for a fact that some schools, such as Slippery Rock High School, do not have a job shadow or community service requirement this year. From our graduation requirement of job shadows, there is a chance I could have spread the virus to my grandparents or other people that are at risk. Thankfully, I didn’t, but there is a great chance that I could have. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has no statewide graduation requirement for the 2021 graduation year, so why should we force students to complete requirements that may put others at risk?


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