Vaccinations open to 16+ starting Wednesday

Celie Kreilkamp, Staff Writer

Schilling after getting her vaccination

What’s the first thing you’re going to do when COVID is gone?

It’s a question we have all asked each other for most of the past year. Will we go to concerts? Take an overseas vacation? Simply spend time with family?

Though it’s not likely that COVID will be “gone” anytime soon, we are beginning to see a light at the end of this tunnel. This past week, Indiana joined many states in opening vaccinations to anyone 16+ years old. Governor Holcomb addressed the state on Tuesday about the changes we will see to our state’s COVID response.

“On Wednesday, March 31, we’ll plan to open vaccine eligibility to all Hoosiers- 16 years and older.”

This means soon, close to half of South’s student body will be eligible for a vaccine. South senior Rowan Schilling is one of a handful of students who has already been vaccinated- in Schilling’s case, she will be working as a camp counselor this summer and qualifies as a childcare worker. 

“I was pretty surprised because I didn’t even feel like I got a shot. I only felt soreness for the day after. It hurt less than the yearly flu shot. It was super quick and easy!” Schilling got her first Pfizer shot recently, and recommends that all of her peers receive the vaccine as soon as they can.

South senior Li Mei O’Mahoney knows exactly what she wants to do when she is vaccinated. “I want to have a nice meal with other people. I wasn’t able to spend any holidays with anyone this year, so I’m excited to gather with other vaccinated people to talk and eat like we used to.” 

“I want to go to a concert with friends,” says South junior Blaise Oeding. “ Usually this is the time in their lives when teenagers go to concerts, so I feel like kids our age might have missed out a little. Once things are back to normal, I’d love to go see someone perform. Maybe A$AP Rocky or Jon Bellion.” 

Additionally, a change to the state-wide mask mandate came with Tuesday’s news. 

“On April 6, the face covering mandate will become a state mask advisory,” announced Holcomb. 

This means businesses and local governments will be able to choose whether or not masks will be mandatory inside their buildings. However, schools, all state buildings and offices, and COVID-19 vaccination/testing sites will still have mandatory mask guidelines. 

“I unfortunately think the mask mandate being lifted might be premature,” said Schilling. “We’re taking the right steps… However, that’s still a lot of people needing to be signed up and physically into the clinics to get their two shots. Though soon I’ll be fully vaccinated, I still plan to wear my mask in public places, and I hope others choose to do the same after the mandate is gone.” 

Oeding agreed. “I don’t know if it’s right to lift the mandate just yet, but I do think that, no matter what, the vaccines will help lower the cases and death rates immensely in the near future.”

The CDC still urges vaccinated people to practice all social distancing and mask recommendations to protect the majority of the population who remain unvaccinated. 

Starting March 31st, South students can schedule their Indiana vaccination appointment at or by calling 211. Optimist encourages all South students to do their part in making Bloomington safer by getting vaccinated.