An Interview with English Teacher Erin Thiry

We discuss vaccination, distance learning, and the need to get back in school as quickly as we can.

Kiara Quezada

Sometimes an interview is worth printing in total. Here are the thoughtful responses of Ms. Thiry, an English teacher at North.

What is your opinion on getting the vaccine?

  • I am very in favor of vaccines in general. My father is a doctor, so I grew up in a medical, science-oriented home. I trust the science behind the creation and testing of the COVID vaccine, even if it seems quick. The truth is, SARS-type vaccines have been in the works for over a decade. This vaccine was able to be developed so quickly due to that foundation. And I truly love the science behind it! It’s an elegant design that’s more targeted than previous vaccines due to the mRNA delivery method. I think everyone who is physically able to tolerate the vaccine should get it.

Would that opinion change if you weren’t a teacher? If yes, then why?

  • No. We won’t reach herd immunity in a natural way without millions more dying. Herd immunity is necessary to protect those who aren’t able to take the vaccine. We see problems with drops in herd immunity when people don’t receive measles/mumps immunizations. Then we have outbreaks that can impact even those who are fully immunized.

Were you nervous about getting the vaccine?

  • I’m honestly nervous before every shot I get. I just don’t like them. It’s not enough reason, though, to avoid protecting myself and my family.

Do you think getting the vaccine will become something mandatory in the future?

  • I don’t know. We currently have mandatory vaccines for students and teachers to attend and work in public schools. The exceptions are for religious or health reasons. I don’t see why this one shouldn’t also be required. I mean, the global economy has been shut down for almost a year from this disease and we have a way to effectively prevent it from happening again. I feel that opting to not get vaccinated is opting for continued economic and social disruption.

Did you experience any side effects? What were they? Any tiredness? Nausea?

  • I did. My arm was very sore for several days afterward, much more than with my annual flu shot. I also slept poorly the first night and was achy and tired the day after. By the next day, though, I felt back to normal and was glad I got it. Our bodies create interferon in response to foreign material (the mRNA in the vaccine) which is our immune response. It’s healthy and normal. Feeling symptoms simply means I had a good immune response to the vaccine. Now I’m busy creating antibodies.

Do you feel like we would have been able to go back in person even without teacher vaccines? Let’s say we had the option of going back to in person learning before the vaccine came out, would you want to go back?

  • I feel like these two go together. I have been very opposed to schools reopening without the vaccine. The science behind returning in the fall did not support it. Students had been kept home for the majority of the pandemic at that time. Because they had not been exposed, there was a much lower rate of disease in children and teens. That statistic was manipulated to make it appear as if children did not contract it. We know that’s false now. We did know that adults could get it from asymptomatic carriers and the younger the infected person, the less likely they were to have symptoms. I was concerned about becoming infected and passing it to my husband and children. I’m part of a large, multi-generational family and haven’t seen my parents, two of my siblings’ families, or my grandmother unmasked since last March. I knew that going back without a vaccine would push back that possibility even further. Even so, I have missed being in person with my students so much. I don’t know anyone who has unconflicted feelings about this issue.

Is there anything you feel people should know about the program?

  • I don’t know if there’s anything I can add here.