COVID-19 will be the scariest thing this Halloween season

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Monica Alarcon-Najarro, Contributing Writer

In college, Halloween is the one weekend where almost every single college student goes out to some form of party. But this year, the scariest thing at our doorstep won’t be a clown costume — it will be COVID-19.

Halloween falls on a weekend this year. That means the spooky holiday will provide an even higher probability for students to go out and potentially expose themselves to COVID-19.

We’ve come a long way from when the COVID-19 pandemic first escalated in March 2020, but our progress so far does not define our finish line with the virus. The pandemic still isn’t over with and not everything is completely safe yet.

As vaccines continue to roll out, I’ve seen a shield go over the eyes of my peers — blocking themselves from seeing the minimal chance that vaccinated people could still get COVID-19. Not only that, but other illnesses are still going around as we venture into the flu season. No vaccine will ever make anyone invincible to viruses.

Breakthrough cases with COVID-19 can still happen. Similar to any other vaccine, the vaccine for COVID-19 will not fully protect you from the chance of getting sick, but can help in preventing serious hospitalization.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with breakthrough infections are less likely to develop severe symptoms, which minimizes their chance at going to the hospital compared to those who are unvaccinated. However, the CDC still states that breakthrough cases, or those who get COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, can still spread the virus.

All it takes for someone to get infected at a Halloween party is just one person who has COVID-19. I’m hesitant about my own health when it comes to this upcoming weekend. I’m stuck between wanting to have fun and not wanting to get sick again, as I was sick with a flu earlier this month.

Just because people are getting vaccinated and immunocompromised people are getting booster shots does not mean that the pandemic is gone. The fact that we’re still wearing masks in places such as classrooms should be enough to show that COVID-19 can still get passed around among the vaccinated.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, in some populations, breakthrough infections have shown infection rates of “approximately 1 in 100 fully vaccinated people.” The website also states that the delta variant of COVID-19 is more contagious compared to other COVID-19 variants.

It won’t be a surprise to me if VCU has at least one COVID-19 breakthrough case during or after the Halloween weekend. With tons of students being packed into small spaces for Halloween parties, there’s no doubt one of us will get sick with something.

Sure, it does seem like things are going back to normal with businesses opening up and our ability to go to different amusement parks or haunted houses with a mask on, but we shouldn’t forget that we’re still in a pandemic.

I remember going to Kings Dominion’s reopening in May, where they gave vaccinated people the option of wearing a mask or not, which is a rule they still currently have in place.

I would like to live life normally just like you, but it’s taking a lot longer than expected to go back to the old lives we all had. If you do decide to go out this Halloween, please make sure to get tested for COVID-19. Nothing would be worse than unknowingly passing around the flu, let alone COVID-19, to other people.

This year, it may be that COVID-19 can make or break your Halloween. I know that not going out may seem like the worst idea because of fear of missing out, but surrounding yourself with a small group of friends who are not sick may benefit your health in the long run. Life isn’t back to normal yet, and you should be aware that the dangers of catching COVID-19 are still out there.

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