A majority of Hillsdale stu­dents do not plan on taking the COVID-19 vaccine, and a majority of faculty and staff already have taken it, according to a new Col­legian poll.

In the survey, 55% of the 340 student respon­dents said they would not take the vaccine, with 23% saying they would take the vaccine and 20% unde­cided.

Among faculty, 76.5% of 102 respon­dents said they have already taken the vaccine, while 8.8% said they planned to take it and 9.8% said they don’t. Other faculty par­tic­i­pants declined to respond or were unde­cided.

Among staff, 53.4% of 103 respon­dents said they have already received the vaccine, while 7.8% said they wanted to take it and 27.2% said they don’t. Others declined to answer or were unde­cided.

The poll included 545 respon­dents among stu­dents, faculty, and staff. It was con­ducted online and dis­tributed through campus newsletters from Jan. 17 to Feb. 17. 

In a Gallup poll last month, 65% of Amer­icans said they would be willing to receive an approved vaccine if available at no cost.

Campus respon­dents who said they do not plan on taking the vaccine cited concern for potential side effects, dis­trust of the vaccine itself, and lack of being in a high-risk cat­egory. 

Among those who want to take the vaccine, 48% said they wanted to speed the end of the pan­demic, while 19% said they would take it to avoid exposing family members to the illness. Only 7% of those planning to take it cited fear of con­tracting the virus.

Pro­fessor of History Miles Smith said he took the vaccine.

“It was actually pretty easy,” Smith said. “The whole process, from me walking in to getting the shot, was less than five minutes.”

Smith said the shot’s effects were minimal.

“After the first shot, my arm got sore, like what happens with a normal shot,” Smith said. “I was tired for a couple hours in the afternoon after the second shot, but I didn’t have any sig­nif­icant side effects.”

Smith said he had mul­tiple reasons for electing to receive the vaccine. 

“I’ve just been wanting to do any­thing I can to be active and out in society around people again,” he said. “I wanted it for mobility pur­poses, to be able to be around the people I love.”

Smith has an elderly grand­father, as well as a close friend with cancer. He said he would like to be around them while pre­serving their comfort. Addi­tionally, he said he has hope things will go back to normal even­tually.

“My area of expertise is the 19th century, so there were the great cholera epi­demics, the great yellow fever epi­demics, and things bounced back pretty fast,” Smith said. “I think there will always be con­se­quences, but I hope that doesn’t mean we won’t get back to normal. One thing you realize is once people get a taste of what they once had, they want more of it.”

Twenty-seven percent of par­tic­i­pants who did not want to take the vaccine said they were dis­trustful of this par­ticular vaccine. Another 26% said they believe they are not in a high-risk cat­egory for con­tracting COVID-19. Addi­tionally, 23% were con­cerned about potential side effects. Only 5% said they were against vac­cines in general. 

Of the 545 sur­veyed, 86% said they nor­mally take vac­cines, and 50% nor­mally take the flu shot. 

Freshman Joey Spoelstra is electing not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He listed a number of con­cerns, most notably a dis­trust of the speed with which the vaccine has been pro­duced.

“The long-term effects and symptoms haven’t been properly recorded because it’s such new science,” Spoelstra said. “I really don’t think we should be putting that in our bodies.”

Spoelstra also said he believes fear was a major moti­vator for the pro­duction of this vaccine.

“I don’t think fear is a proper moti­vator to rush a process like this,” Spoelstra said. “We can’t just fear every­thing our whole lives.”

He said people should have the freedom to choose whether to get the vaccine.

Sophomore Carson Brown also said he is hes­itant about the speed at which the vaccine was developed, and ques­tioned the moti­vation behind the vaccine’s pro­duction.

“I have been unim­pressed by the rhetoric and societal manip­u­lation per­formed by big science and business, causing me to be dis­trustful of the true purpose behind this pan­demic and vaccine,” Brown said.

Brown said he expects things to go back to normal once the vaccine is more widely dis­tributed, but hopes it will not cause long term health effects on its recip­ients.

Pro­fessor of Biology Silas Johnson, a virol­ogist who is cur­rently on sab­batical researching COVID-19, said the vaccine is designed to work like all vac­cines — to create an immune response.

“Like all vac­cines, the COVID-19 vac­cines are designed to elicit a pro­tective immune response against SARS-CoV‑2, the virus that causes COVID-19, without causing the disease,” Johnson said.

In other words, the COVID-19 vaccine does not infect a recipient with the virus, nor does it change the recipient’s genetics.

“No, the vaccine does not change your genetics,” Johnson said. “This is the most common type of mis­in­for­mation I hear about the vac­cines. It is demon­strably false.”

He also addressed some other common fears about the vaccine. 

“The vaccine is not dan­gerous and people should not be afraid of it,” Johnson said. “That being said, no vaccine is 100% risk free. Adverse events occur with all vac­cines, but they are extremely rare.”

Johnson also weighed in on the speed of the vaccine’s pro­duction.

“The first studies which set the groundwork for our current mRNA vac­cines were carried out in the early 1990s,” Johnson said. “The first human clinical trials for mRNA vac­cines were in 2008. The current COVID-19 mRNA vac­cines are the most promising mRNA vac­cines developed to date.”

Johnson said he hopes to see a drastic reduction in the trans­mission of the virus once the vaccine is more wide­spread.

Junior Anna Cannon is not only open to the coro­n­avirus vaccine, but has already taken it herself.

“I work in healthcare back home, so I was in one of the first rounds of people to get it,” Cannon said.

Even if she had not received the vaccine, Cannon said she would have gotten it anyway.

“I didn’t get it because I was worried about my health. I just wanted peace of mind and not having to worry about it if I’m vis­iting someone,” Cannon said.

Cannon also said she hopes things will get back to normal and more busi­nesses will open up once the vaccine is more widely dis­tributed.

“I think it’s good for old people to have it so they can visit their family and live normal lives,” Cannon said.

Freshman Eliz­abeth Speck is also in favor of getting  the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I believe if we would like to establish herd immunity, the vaccine is the best way to go,” Speck said. “I also have family members who are very high risk and I would like to keep them and myself safe.”

Speck said everyone who is able should get the vaccine to help the number of com­munity-trans­mitted cases decrease sig­nif­i­cantly.