Student Opinions on the COVID-19 Vaccine


Coronavirus vaccinations have been required for entry to certain places like restaurants, which began in 2021, but vaccination is not required for K-12 students. Since receiving the doses is only recommended and not required, many are not getting vaccinated.

We interviewed students in Santa Cruz County about their dose status and their opinions on the vaccine. In the 13 online survey responses we received, 10 people had been vaccinated against coronavirus and 3 had not. We also distributed 25 paper surveys and interviewed 5 people in person. All the paper survey-takers except one were people who had gotten the vaccine and wanted to get the vaccine. All of the in-person interviewees had been vaccinated as well. So out of the 48 people, 4 responded that they were not vaccinated

Those 4 people gave us 3 repeating reasons for not wanting to get vaccinated: Uncertainty around the ingredients, side effects (for minors specifically), and how new the vaccine was.

One student who didn’t want to get vaccinated said that they opposed putting “random” ingredients in their body. Although one person also stated that manufacturers would not release the vaccine ingredients, Pfizer, like other manufacturers release their ingredients on the CDC’s website here: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Overview and Safety | CDC

One student who has gotten other vaccines said that the coronavirus vaccine had “bad side effects for adolescents so I chose not to get it”.

Three people also felt that the vaccine was too new. Some respondents told us they didn’t want to get it because “it’s only been around for like a year” and “it just got released a year ago. Also, I don’t feel comfortable with it”.

Most people we interviewed got the vaccine, and those people expressed recurring themes of why they did: protecting themselves from COVID, ending the pandemic, protecting those around them, and protecting people at high risk.

Fatima, a 14-year-old, said that they got vaccinated because “I think it was a good idea as it makes covid less severe if I get it”. Caitlin O’Neill, a PCS student, said she got it because, “it helps me to be less likely to get covid, and makes it better if I do get covid.”  An anonymous student said, “because it decreases the likelihood of contracting the virus”. 

Other students with ideas of ending the pandemic shared their opinions. Zoe Schwab said, “I think it’s the right choice because it’s gonna stop the spread of covid, and we can stop wearing masks/get back to normal again.”  An anonymous student said they also got vaccinated “so the cases can go down and so our lives can go back to normal”.

Many also made their decision with the motivation of helping others. Asha Sole, a PCS student, said getting the vaccine “protects the collective good,” and an anonymous student said it was because “Vaccination does not only protect me, but the people around me as well.”  “Yes to not kill your Grandma.”

Most people we interviewed got the vaccine, although those who did not either said that they did not feel comfortable with how new it was or they were worried that it was dangerous. With a new law being passed allowing kids over the age of 12 to get vaccinated regardless of parental opinions, more kids will be able to get vaccinated. Even with this law, there are still a few barriers to getting vaccinated such as getting a ride to clinics and dealing with the potential backlash from parents/guardians or other adults.