As COVID-19 vaccinations become more readily available to the public, reasons to receive the vaccine become more prevalent.

Mississippi State University's Instagram page features several faculty members and the student body president in posts that briefly explain the person's reason to get the vaccine.

Laura Dunn, interim director of student success, said she plans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to educators. Dunn listed many reasons why she wants to get the vaccine, with her top reason being her respect for her community.

"For me, I care about people. I think that's the biggest thing. I care about my family, my neighbors, my community, my students ..." Dunn said. "We're ready to get back to normal, but normal is not going to happen until more people get that vaccine. I want to be a part of that."

Dunn said she has seen the pandemic's effects on her students, coworkers, family, friends and its toll on many individuals' mental and physical health. She said she wants that burden to be relieved.

More than anything, Dunn said she wants people to understand getting the COVID-19 vaccine is to help protect people in your community. Receiving the vaccine, she explained, shows the responsibility people play in society. She said part of college students' responsibilities should include getting the vaccine to be part of the solution.

"It's to protect other people, not just yourself," Dunn said.

MSU Provost David Shaw had a unique experience with the COVID-19 vaccination. Shaw tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving his first dose of the vaccine. This means he must wait 90 days to receive his second dose. When asked if it made him wary of the vaccine's effectiveness, he said no because he knew the first dose did not guarantee immunity from the virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95% effective for preventing COVID-19 after the individual receives two doses. The vaccine is only about 50% effective after the first dose, which Shaw understood when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Nevertheless, Shaw said he will be receiving his second dose of the vaccine as soon as possible, and he has many reasons why he feels safe receiving it.

First, Shaw stated he is looking forward to normalcy. Like many people, he wants life to go back to its pre-COVID-19 ways, without social distancing and mask-wearing.

"I would very much, just like all the college students, want to go into the fall semester with a normal semester. I think the only way we can do that is not only the older people but also college students getting the vaccine," Shaw said.

Another reason Shaw felt comfortable receiving his vaccine is that he said he trusts the science behind it. As an avid reader of science, Shaw said he sees the research and technology it took to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, and he believes the vaccine is effective and safe for the general population.

Like Shaw and Dunn, Elva Kaye Lance, MSU director of bands, said she is an advocate for the vaccine because she also wants life to return to normal.

Lance has family that lives in California, and she would like to visit them once it is safe to do so. She said she misses spending time with her family, friends and band students without worrying about spreading the coronavirus.

The Famous Maroon Band has over 400 members, and Lance said the band has not been able to practice or meet all together since the pandemic began. According to Lance, the band considers itself to be a family, but it is hard to have a family atmosphere with the restrictions in place.

She explained the challenges her students endure to navigate playing their instruments while social distancing, including using bell covers on instruments and wearing performance masks. Getting the vaccine is the next step in returning to regular band activities, Lance noted.

"It's the right thing to do to help us move ahead," Lance said.

Developing the vaccine was quick, and Lance said she is grateful for that because of the struggles society has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has received her first dose of the vaccine and expects to get the second dose soon.

Lance noted there is a responsibility to one another as humans and getting the vaccine is part of that responsibility.

"I think there are things that we have to do as citizens that have an impact on the greater good, and I think the vaccine is one of those," Lance said.

As the number of those eligible for vaccinations increases, the communal focus which characterizes the Bulldog family is becoming more evident, with faculty members and students expressing eagerness to do their part in putting an end to COVID-19.

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