Nursing students, faculty share their outlook on COVID-19 pandemic

The+COVID-19+vaccine+is+now+being+distributed+throughout+the+United+States.+

Photo by Zach Bukowski

The COVID-19 vaccine is now being distributed throughout the United States.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had drastic effects on people from every corner of the world. In the United States, the COVID-19 vaccine is finally starting to be administered on a wider scale. However, Marquette and Wisconsin professionals still believe that the state has a ways to go before we can return to some sense of normalcy. 

“I am optimistic about our future, and the progress being made in the work to control the pandemic, but we are very far from over!” Patricia Schroeder, director of strategic initiatives in the College of Nursing said in an email. “We have months ahead of us in following CDC guidelines of wearing masks, distancing, avoiding crowds, handwashing, and more.” 

There are currently two vaccines, manufactured by Moderna and Pfizer, which have been approved for widespread distribution throughout the United States. In fact, students on the Marquette campus have been able get vaccinated.

“I was fortunate enough to have both of my doses of the Pfizer vaccine with no symptoms. I’m grateful that myself and my colleagues were able to receive the vaccine, but I will be even more relieved once it becomes more widespread. I think we are finally moving in the right direction,” Olivia Ward, a senior in the College of Nursing, said.

Ward was able to receive the vaccine through her position as nursing assistant at Froedtert Hospital. She was hired after a growing need for care for COVID-19 patients.

“Seeing the pandemic firsthand and who it has impacted is terrifying. I had one patient cry to me one day and tell me that she wouldn’t wish this illness on anyone. It has been incredibly disheartening to see my peers and people I don’t know across the country doing the opposite of what is asked of them right now,” Ward said.

Starting Jan. 25, Wisconsin seniors over the age of 65 are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We’re moving in the right direction now that the vaccine is rolling out,” Sarah Calonder, a clinical instructor in the College of Nursing, said. “But, I think we have a while before things get back to normal and I think when we get there our normal won’t be what we’ve been used to in the past.” 

Yet, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has been petitioning the federal government for more vaccines.

“We’re going to need more vaccines. That’s the bottom line if we want to continue to move our state forward,” Evers said in an interview with the Washington Post on Jan. 22.

However, getting people to actually accept the vaccine may be a larger issue than the number of vaccines available.

“It’s easy to see why some people would be apprehensive to take a vaccine that was developed so quickly. I think the important thing to keep in mind is that a majority of research for drugs takes years because a lot of it requires struggling for funding, with this vaccine, they had all the access they needed,” Ward said.

Schroeder attests that there are many people working to speed up the process of vaccine distribution.

“Many people and groups are working on these critical issues, to speed up the availability of vaccines to all who want and need it.  This will certainly be happening across the spring,” Schroeder said.

Throughout the pandemic the importance of healthcare and nursing professionals has been emphasized. Medical professionals have been called upon to take care of COVID-19 patients throughout the semester.

“I believe I have seen the best of colleagues—their expertise, commitment, and tenacity — throughout this experience. I believe the community has again recognized the incredible contributions of nurses and other health care team members during these days,” Schroeder said.

On Marquette’s campus, students will be expected to follow similar COVID-19 guidelines such as mask wearing and physical distancing.

“The biggest thing that I would say is that this pandemic has asked all of us to make some sort of sacrifice. Until it is under control, it is our responsibility to one another to do our part,” Ward said.

Most college students are currently not eligible for either COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin. It’s unclear as to when the vaccine will be available for all members of the Marquette campus community.

This story was written by Megan Woolard. She can be reached at megan.woolard@marquette.edu.