Student reflection: COVID-19 is an unfriendly visitor

UMKC offers free vaccinations to its campus community through University Health. (Illumina)

Zackary Zeller

“Thank God I am vaccinated,” I thought as I sat in bed with body aches that pulsed through me like an electric current. 

Despite having two full doses of the Pfizer vaccine, my summer vacation this past August ended with an unfriendly visitor—COVID-19. 

The adrenaline rush of clubbing in Chicago ended abruptly with a scratch in my throat that soon developed into a hellish fever of 103 degrees. My head throbbed so intensely it mirrored the floors of the clubs I was drunkenly dancing on the week prior. 

My nights under neon lights took a sharp left turn into two weeks under the covers of a blanket, quarantined in my parents’ basement with a sleeve of saltine crackers at my bedside. How did I so quickly get to the point where I was asking myself, “Should I get my parents to drive me to the hospital?”

Being locked away in my parents’ basement did allow me to test a theory. In my house, our laundry room is attached to the bedroom downstairs where I was serving my two-week-long prison sentence. Hovering my nose over a gallon of bleach, I expected to be met with the astringent smell of chemicals. Nothing

As my senses of taste and smell completely left my body, I could not help but question my privilege. What if I was over the age of 70? What if I had a preexisting condition?

For many Americans, this is the harsh reality of the world we have been living in these past two years as COVID continues to take the lives of the innocent. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, I have always taken the pandemic seriously by religiously wearing my mask and getting vaccinated. But I would be lying if I said this experience of getting COVID firsthand did not serve as a wake-up call. 

If COVID-19 can knock me out as a healthy 21-year-old male, it sure as hell can do it to you, too. With full FDA approval of the original Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and now the ability to receive the corresponding booster shots, I beg my young peers to please get fully vaccinated.

Getting the original vaccine is a great first step, but in order to maintain immunity and end this real-life hell we have all collectively been living in, we must remain diligent and get our booster shots. 

According to the CDC, breakthrough COVID-19 infections after being vaccinated result in far less severe symptoms compared to the unvaccinated. This means the vaccinated who happen to get COVID-19 are statistically less likely to require hospitalization or die compared to people who are not vaccinated.

With this information in mind, I thank God I chose to get vaccinated early and pray for those who choose to live in ignorance. 

UMKC offers free vaccinations to our campus community through University Health, which can be reached at (816) 404-CARE (2273).

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