A few weeks ago, I was playing in the snow, building my own Frosty the Snowman in the backyard. Now, the snow has all gone, the land is green, the trees are budding, the birds are chirping, and a whole new spring is coming again.

“Richard, we are going to Paris, get your French ready!” I still feel the excitement when my mom said this last spring.

One year has passed, but I continue to be stuck in Vermont. No Paris, no Europe, not even outside of the state.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been putting a stop to any hope of travel and normal social life, much to my dismay, and to everybody’s. I see the movie theater closed, museum shut down, music hall deserted, and no more eat-ins at my favorite restaurants. I am tired of having to wear a mask during sports, which makes breathing difficult.

More importantly, my school schedule has been cut in half, supplemented by remote learning. I find it harder to make new friends and keep in touch with old ones. The coronavirus has transformed my daily life significantly.

I am not the only one that has suffered because of the pandemic. Vermont has been hit hard by it as well as the rest of the country. At the peak of the pandemic, the unemployment rate reached as high as 15.6 percent, from the pre-pandemic rate of 2.4 percent.

In the first four months after the coronavirus emerged, 140 businesses in Vermont permanently closed. Nationwide during the same period the U.S. unemployment rate rose from 3.5 percent to 14.7 percent. A record 12,200 stores closed in 2020, and CNBC predicts that as many as 10,000 more could close in 2021 in the U.S. Many people and families are enduring the hardships of the impact of the pandemic.

Mass vaccination is the only way to rapidly relieve people of these hardships. So far various coronavirus vaccines have been developed, and three of them, from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Janssen/J&J, have acquired Emergency Use Authorization from FDA due to the urgent need for these vaccines.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have 95 percent and 94.1 percent efficacy rates respectively while that of Janssen/J&J is 66.3 percent but only one dose required, according to CDC.

These prove that the vaccine can make people develop immunity to the coronavirus and reduce health risks when exposed to it, so that everybody’s life can go back to normal again.

Pres. Joe Biden has announced, “All Americans to be eligible for vaccinations by May 1, puts the nation on a path to get closer to normal by July 4th.”

I’m looking forward to the day when I can watch movies at theaters, visit the museums, play music in the entire orchestra, and dine at my favorite restaurants again. I hope that I don’t have to wear a mask to play sports, and that all classes will be in-person and I can meet all my classmates in school. Finally, I cannot wait to view Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

Still, some people are skeptical about the safety of the coronavirus vaccines, and want FDA to be more discreet about the approval of a new type of vaccine in such a short trial period. Their skepticism may be unsubstantiated, but I appreciate it because such concerns and questions could allow us to obtain safer, more effective and more reliable vaccines. We need to gain people’s confidence on the vaccines with openness and truth. Mass vaccination can only achieve its goal after everyone gets vaccinated.

At least I can imagine making a snowman with my friends or having a snowball fight with them this coming winter.

Richard Jiang is a 7th grade student at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School

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