18| MARCH 2021 | | P R O & C O N | theMIRROR THE VACCINE Yes. I got it. I’m one step closer to normal. SHAAN BHATIA EDITOR-AT-LARGE It’s been over a year since covid-19 forced almost everyone into mandatory quarantine. <strong>The</strong> lines defining our daily lives have blurred. Busy malls have become ghost towns. Arenas that were packed with fans are now just empty shells of what they used to be. <strong>The</strong> routines of our normal lives seem like a thing of the past. But all it takes is two shots in the arm to return back to normal. Whether you have outlandish views such as “vaccines create autism” or reasonable views such as “the creation of the vaccines were rushed”; you should still take the vaccine. Nearly $9 billion has been invested into vaccine research and development. While the rush to create a vaccine was a popular concern amongst Americans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made information regarding development easily accessible to the public. At each stage, numerous tests were conducted and required approval by multiple researchers, doctors and officials. While I feel the CDC has done a great job at making sure the vaccines are effective and safe, our federal government has done a poor job at distribution and administration of the doses. I definitely agree those who are most at risk should get the vaccine first. This includes police officers, firefighters, military members, healthcare workers, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions. <strong>The</strong> prioritization of those in the food THE MIRROR | PHOTOS BY SHAAN BHATIA IMMUNITY With just two doses of a vaccine, people are becoming resistant to a virus that seemed to have no end in an attempt to return to normalcy. industry over teachers and students is concerning. I am not saying that those in the food industry are any less important than everyone else, but the need to get schools fully reopened is far more important. Students are missing out on important lessons because teachers have been forced to reduce the amount of time they can devote to online lessons. <strong>The</strong> school day has been reduced by more than two hours and classes only meet two days a week instead of five. High school students are being shortchanged and are undergoing their most important years before college. <strong>The</strong> information they are losing out on are what some consider to be the fundamental for the rest of their lives. Preschool and elementary students are losing out on valuable social skills that can only be learned by interacting with their classmates in a class. Getting teachers and students back in classrooms is important. Vaccines are the answer. I am someone who would like to be back in class and participate in extracurricular activities with no fear of catching the virus and transmitting it to members of my family. I want to resume hangouts with my friends without worrying about masks and social distancing, so I decided I would get the vaccine. <strong>The</strong> first and most difficult step in getting the vaccine was scheduling an appointment. It took about a week and I had to repeatedly refresh California’s Department of Public Health website, myturn. com, the appointment scheduling site. After several error messages and unavailable appointment times I finally got a text confirming my appointment. I got my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on March 10. When I arrived at the vaccination site there were foldable chairs, tents and long lines. When it was my turn, volunteers asked me to present them with an email confirming my appointment and a recent pay stub along with a letter from my employer as proof I worked in the food industry. <strong>The</strong>y immediately directed me to the chairs behind them. <strong>The</strong>y asked me to keep my mask on and present a valid driver’s license proving I was old enough to get the Pfizer vaccine, which is the only shot available to those 16 and older. <strong>The</strong> staff offered everyone water while they waited. Again I had to present the required documents and give my address, age and proof of employment. Next a nurse numbed my shoulder. I was able to get a good look at the needle. Although I typically get nervous and hate getting shots I was eager to watch as the needle penetrated the skin and the vaccine dose was injected into my shoulder. <strong>The</strong> shot felt no different than getting an annual flu shot at the doctor’s office. After injecting me, the nurse filled out the CDC’s vaccine information card and handed it to me to present when I got my second shot. Next was a 15-minute supervised wait period to see if I would show any adverse symptoms. All the seats were socially distanced, with nurses checking on those whose wait time was almost completed. When I asked a nurse if I could take pain relievers such as Advil, they advised me to stay away from pain relievers, since they might reduce the effectiveness of the first dose. When the wait was over I was able to leave and head home. My only side effect was a sore arm that lasted for less than a week. Although the process was nerve racking and required a lot of patience, it was worth it. It means I’m one step closer to getting back to my normal routine. No. I’m passing. I won’t feed into the hype. FELIPE RODRIGUEZ As excited as we are to regain control of our lives, we shouldn’t be so eager to receive the vaccine. Americans are rightfully concerned about the vaccine’s testing and question if crucial testing was overlooked because of rushed production. A major concern is the credibility of the drug manufacturers that mass produce them. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t being questioned enough and the public is not doing enough personal research on the manufacturers or the contents of the vaccine. One pharmaceutical company that should raise concerns is AstraZeneca, which produces medicine for respiratory, metabolic and neurologic diseases. PEXELS | GABBY K In partnership with Oxford University in Great Britain, the company created a covid-19 vaccine. In the past AstraZeneca paid millions of dollars for false claims against U.S. federal and state programs after marketing one of their drugs for illnesses that were never approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Doctors were bribed to recommend and prescribe the drug to patients and by doing so, their health was at risk. A company with a past like this shouldn’t have the ability to produce and distribute a vaccine because they’re unreliable. Individuals who received the vaccine reported some side effects ranging from mild to severe fatigue, headaches, muscle aches and fevers and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) severe allergic reactions are also possible. Unfortunately for others, the result of the vaccine was fatality. Recently, a Florida doctor who suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage after receiving the Pfizer vaccine is being investigated. Pfizer claims to be actively investigating the death but believes it was unrelated to the vaccine. Belief is not enough. Pfizer should pull their vaccine until health officals are certain the death is not a result of the vaccine. Instead of taking the vaccine, start with quarantining at home. Continue to wear face masks and regular disinfecting will go a long way in offering protection. Whether or not you decide to get vaccinated, death is still a possible outcome for both choices. <strong>The</strong>re have been reports of 23 deaths of elderly people who got vaccinated. Those who choose to get vaccinated should not stop following health procedures like social distancing and wearing a mask simply because they believe they’re protected from covid-19. We can’t simply rely on the vaccine.
theMIRROR | A T H L E T I C S | | MARCH 2021 |19 ONE YEAR LATER Athletes can return to LAUSD campuses for the first time since 2020 — with restrictions By ANDRE DAVANCENS THE MIRROR STAFF After months of indecision and uncertainty, LAUSD has finally green lighted a return to campus for high school athletes. In a March 3 bulletin, LAUSD announced that “Los Angeles Unified schools will follow new state and local guidance allowing students ages 13 and older to participate in outdoor sports competitions.” <strong>The</strong> official return of sports to LAUSD is a welcomed relief to athletes across Los Angeles. Sports this semester will be split between two seasons, the first including cross country, football, and water polo and the second including baseball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field and cheer. Students started conditioning on March 15. <strong>The</strong> return, while being good news, is being viewed with mixed feelings. “I think that it’s a good idea in some sense,” said Karyme Garcia, captain of the varsity aquatic team. “As long as we take appropriate safety precautions it should be fine, though I’m concerned that people practicing can still have covid-19, especially for contact sports like football and waterpolo.” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner addressed concerns in his March 8 weekly video address. “Allowing students to resume athletic competition is not a decision we made lightly,” Beutner said. “<strong>The</strong> spread of the virus is still categorized as widespread in Los Angeles County. At the same time, the opportunity for young adults to be with friends and teammates while participating in a sport might help ease the anxiety and isolation many are feeling.” Starting March 17, Van Nuys High School began hosting practices, allowing student athletes back on campus. Students are temperature checked at the North gate of the football field. <strong>The</strong>y must also show proof of a negative covid-19 test taken within the last three days, as well as LAUSD’s Daily Pass. All ramped-up practices are for the soonto-happen athletic competitions over the coming few weeks. All sports will be participating in these competitions except for Water Polo because only four schools in the entire district have access to an outdoor pool. <strong>The</strong> Swim Team may be in the same boat for the second season this semester unless they can access the use of an outdoor pool. Only six of the Track and Field team’s 62 athletes attended the first practice of the year even though 36 students were eligible to practice. <strong>The</strong>ir first meet was held at Monroe High School on March 19. “It’s frustrating because even though most of my athletes are eligible they are waiting on receiving their covid tests,” Coach Alejandro Beccera said. “With so many athletes returning to campuses across LAUSD, the testing centers are packed so students need to wait a week before going on campus.” While the practices and competitions are starting back up, not many Van Nuys athletes can participate because they lack the needed physicals to be cleared. With covid-19 making it even harder for students to go to a doctor to get a physical, sports may resume at full capacity much more slowly than expected. Despite the safety precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus, some parents still don’t feel comfortable sending their student athletes back to campus just yet. Until all students and coaches can be fully vaccinated, it still remains uncertain when high school athletics will return in full force. ‘‘ THE ALEJANDRO BECERRA TRACK & FIELD COACH MIRROR | ANDRE DAVANCENS MASKED MAN Coach Alejandro Becerra dons a face mask on March 17, his first day back at practice since the pandemic began. It’s frustrating because even though most of my athletes are eligible they are waiting on receiving their covid tests.” MOTIVATION Staying positive during these hard times IT CAN BE difficult for athletes to motivate themselves since their practices, games, and tournaments have been postponed or cancelled altogether. For Jake Stanley, boys varsity volleyball team captain, his parents have taught him to keep moving forward even though the pandemic makes it difficult to stay motivated sometimes.. “My parents have been unwaveringly supportive of me throughout my life, believing I can accomplish the things I set myself to,” Stanley said. “<strong>The</strong>y’ve empowered me to lean into the things that intimidate me, things that I think that I might not be able to do. As a result, I’m self-motivated to challenge myself because I know that even if I fail I will grow in some way.” With much more time on his hands due to covid-19 restrictions, Stanley noticed how it has benefited his relationship with his parents and has helped him pay greater attention to his health. “Something that a lot of athletes neglect, at least I know I did, when it comes to sports is nutrition,” he said. “With the extra time I’ve had during quarantine, I’ve created a meal plan for myself using some recipes from USA volleyball nutritionists.” As for Coach George Davancens’ approach to motivating his water polo and swimming teams, he believes that it is exceedingly difficult to bring his practices onto the online learning platform. “It is very difficult not to be able to see and communicate with my athletes every day,” he said. “I have Zoom meetings once a week, however it is not even close to being enough. I’ve chosen not to have meetings every day primarily because there isn’t much I can do with them regarding athletics in a large Zoom meeting.” Coach Davancens’ alternative solution is letting athletes choose their own practices one-on-one with peers. “To help them get into or keep in shape, and to help build some team dynamics, I split my team into small workout groups,” Davancens said. “This helps keep them in shape until we can hold live practices. It also helps build leadership skills and team spirit by being accountable to each other.” LAUSD athletics returned to campuses on March 17, and high schools are set to reopen some time in late April. “While they may or may not be excited about returning to regular classes, I believe they are all jazzed to get back to practice and especially into competition,” said Davancens. Even after dealing with the obstacles covid-19 has thrown at athletes, Stanley thinks volleyball has provided a sense of community that self-isolation doesn’t offer. “Even though we couldn’t meet, we still held ourselves accountable to each other,” he said “For many of us, this year will be our last season. We still practice on our own because — on the off-chance we have a season — we want to be ready to make it one we can be proud of.” • MELANIE CONTRERAS Sports fitness center gets a makeover THE FITNESS center has seen better days, being the room shared by every athlete on campus it was due time for it to get an update. <strong>The</strong> UCLA Health initiative Sound Body Sound Mind have provided a grant to the school to help make this happen. Included in the grant was enough money to repair and repaint the fitness center and weight room as well as purchase $15,000 of new equipment. <strong>The</strong> new equipment includes nine spin bikes and three rowers. • ANDRE DAVANCENS