Cal Poly students are overwhelmingly in support of getting vaccinated for COVID-19, according to surveys conducted by Mustang News in April.

Mustang News sent Cal Poly students a random survey on April 22, in which 384 of 422 respondents — 91% — indicated they want to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or have already been vaccinated.

Of the survey respondents, 349 of them said they have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — about 82.5%. Two hundred eleven respondents got the Pfizer vaccine, 118 received the Moderna vaccine and 20 got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Most students surveyed received the Pfizer vaccine

Environmental earth and soil sciences freshman Hugo May is one of the survey respondents who got a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. May is due for his second dose on Friday and said he knows at least 20 others who have been vaccinated over the last month.

May has been eligible for the vaccine since March because he works in education. But because he doesn’t work directly in-person or go into an office every day, he said he didn’t want to take up someone else’s spot in line for a vaccine, especially if others needed it more than him.

Although public health officials do not recommend delaying vaccination if eligible, May said he is wary of vaccine distribution inequities in the Bay Area living in Oakland and how “white tech workers” have gone outside their own communities to get vaccinated at sites in communities of color and lower income communities.  

“I didn’t like seeing that and so I didn’t want to be a part of that,” May said. “So I just decided to just hold off for a little bit longer.”

When California expanded vaccine eligibility to anyone over the age of 16 on April 15, that made in-state Cal Poly students eligible for the vaccine, specifically those who aren’t part of prioritized eligibility groups. At that time, May and many of his friends got vaccinated.

The shift in students’ immunization plans from early April to mid-April were also reflected in Mustang News surveys. Only 14% of survey respondents in a separate April 5 Mustang News survey said they were fully vaccinated. That percentage more than tripled in the April 22 Mustang News survey, as 43% of respondents said they were fully vaccinated.

Between early April and mid-April, students changed their plans in order to get vaccinated

Students were also asked to rank vaccines in order of preference. Of the respondents, 72.5% of students prefer the Pfizer vaccine as their first choice, 19% prefer the Moderna vaccine above all and 8.5% of respondents said they preferred the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a first choice.

Construction management junior Peter Strykers is one of the survey respondents who received the Pfizer vaccine. Other than feeling sore in his shoulder, Strykers said he felt fine after taking his first dose — well enough to also run seven miles the same day. 

Over 80% of respondents said they experienced arm pain and over 98% of respondents indicated they felt other symptoms as well, including chills, headache, muscle pain, tiredness or fever.

Top five symptoms student felt after getting vaccinated

Strykers is due for his second Pfizer shot next week and said he was encouraged by his parents to get vaccinated.

Strykers said he knows other people who are hesitant to get vaccinated for COVID-19. At first, he was hesitant as well, but said he now trusts the science behind the vaccines.

“I’m, I guess, second-guessing Big Brother, you know, I kinda got that conspiracy side to me but I think at the end of the day, it’s the best for society just to kind of get that herd immunity,” Strykers said. “The science is real. I don’t think Bill Gates is microchipping us, I don’t think we’re gonna turn into zombies.”

For folks who continue to doubt the vaccine, Strykers said he thinks it’s important to seek out correct information instead of going off of hearsay. But he said even that might not change doubtful opinions on the matter.

“I also think there’s people that are always going to just stick to their belief, and they don’t want to look on the other side, I guess,” Strykers said. “Once they believe something that’s set in stone for them, they don’t want to go back and that’s the thing.”

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