Michaeli is a bit ambivalent, because she feels healthy, and she’s comfortable with her body weight, which she believes is not really a “comorbidity.” But she said she has had breathing problems ever since suffering a bad case of COVID last year. And she also plans to be a camp counselor this summer. So she feels she qualifies for the vaccine on a few counts, even if her body mass index is what officially qualifies her.
“I think, for a while, I was really insecure about it, and then I thought, ‘Listen, for most of my life [my weight] has been bad for me. Clothing hasn’t been my size. People haven’t been … ” Michaeli’s voice trailed off. “But for once in my life, it’ll benefit me, instead of hurting me.”
The 19-year-old Bronx native was scheduled to receive her first shot the next day, so she was several weeks away from being fully vaccinated. She said it wouldn’t have mattered for spring break, anyway, because she had planned to stay close to her dorm, working on papers, perhaps sleeping in a little more than usual, and getting coffee with friends.
“I’m excited to get vaccinated, but I don’t think it’s going to give me any freedom other people don’t have,” Michaeli said. “I think I’ll be a little less anxious, but I don’t think it’s going to change any of my behavior. I think there are plenty of people being unsafe, so I don’t have any wiggle room to be unsafe.”
Down in Greenwich Village, at NYU, there’s very little tension among the vaccine haves and have-nots when it comes to spring break — because there isn’t much of a spring break. It’s a single day, added to create a long weekend in March.
But that doesn’t keep Simran Hajarnavis from dreaming.
“If there wasn’t COVID, and there was a real spring break, I’d probably try to plan something with my friends,” she said, turning to one of them and asking: “Want to go to Hawaii?”
Sitting in Washington Square Park, Hajarnavis and her girlfriends said they’re not too worried about being vaccinated right away, as long as they get their shots in time to study abroad in their upcoming junior year.
A few yards away, Aishani Ramireddy said she has already gotten her vaccine, but she’s not doing anything differently from any other student.
“It’s definitely weird,” she said. Ramireddy’s mother is a physician in Los Angeles. She said that, when she was home, she got the vaccine at the end of the day, at her mother’s office, because there were unused doses that would have been thrown out. Still, she feels conflicted about it.
“It just felt like such a privilege to even have that as an option,” Ramireddy said.
Another NYU student, Anna Domahidi, from Chicago, also had an option to get a vaccine, but declined. She doesn’t hold it against her friend Ramireddy, but she does question another friend, who she said talked up his childhood asthma to qualify for a shot. Domahidi still thinks he crossed an ethical line, even though he lives with a parent who’s immunocompromised: “That’s, like, a little better in my mind, but I don’t know.”
This story comes from KHN’s health reporting partnership with NPR.©2021 Kaiser Health News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.