Peer pressure proves to be valuable tool in vaccinations
NEW BRITAIN — Gov. Lamont spoke Tuesday afternoon. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz and New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart spoke.
So did Dr. Carl Nissen of the Connecticut State Medical Society, acting commissioner of education Charlene M. Russell-Tucker and acting DPH commissioner Deidre Gifford. So did others as part of the CIAC event to encourage high school students to get vaccinated against COVID 19.
Yet the powerful moment came when Drew Kron, the rising senior quarterback of Xavier High of Middletown, stepped up to speak at Willow Brook Park. The most powerful moment came later when Bysiewsicz asked all 20 vaccinated high school athletes in attendance to step forward and stand with her.
Take a look high school athletes. This is where you want to be.
As Kron, who will go on next year to play baseball at UConn, peered into the bank of television cameras, it struck me he stood where so many players over the years before him have celebrated touchdowns in state championship games. Two years ago, St. Joseph of Trumbull celebrated here as it clinched the Class L victory over Daniel Hand of Madison in the much-anticipated showdown to decide Connecticut’s No. 1 ranked team.
Was that two years ago? Or was it a 22 years ago?
It’s hard to remember now, but in the warm August sun Kron told a state one thing for sure. His teammates and coaches could not be more excited for the chance to return to the field.
“As I stand here today at Veterans Stadium,” Kron said, “it is my hope along with thousands of other high school athletes in the state to have a chance of competing for a state title — such as football will have on this very field.
“One way we can guarantee the safety of all that participate and a full season to occur is to take the initiative and get vaccinated if not done so already … Not only a full season, but a normal school year. Football games, homecoming, prom and other school events will be able to take place if we take the charge to get vaccinated. To all my fellow athletes out there that have not been vaccinated yet, I encourage you to sign up and Stay In The Game.”
Kron had found out about the possibility of speaking last week and Monday he met with CIAC executive director Glenn Lungarini. He wrote his speech Monday night and called it a great experience to be able to deliver it in front of so many honorable people.
Oh, make no mistake, Drew. The honor is theirs.
Poised, Kron is one of those kids out of central casting. There are few more effective pressures than peer pressure and he was a valuable choice to help convince high school kids around the state to do the right thing — the must thing.
Kron got vaccinated early in the summer. He had no side effects. Save a sore arm
for a few days, two other athletes, Malachi Booker of Bloomfield and Vainniko Schand of New Britain, said the same.
“We just tried to inform our teammates about the facts,” Kron said afterward. “We tried to persuade them by giving them the information they need to make a decision. At the end of the day, it’s always their decision whether to be vaccinated.”
Last week, the CIAC announced vaccinated students who are in close contact with a known COVID-19 case will not have to quarantine as in previous seasons, as long as they are asymptomatic and wear masks until receiving a negative COVID-19 test within 3-5 days.
Unvaccinated asymptomatic students who are in close contact on a known COVID-19 case must quarantine 10 days (with a negative test between days seven and 10) or quarantine for 14 days without a test.
That is the same time frame for vaccinated or unvaccinated students who experience COVID symptoms after close contact with a COVID-19 case.
The CIAC also recommended unvaccinated students be tested weekly.
“A lot of our team is vaccinated,” Kron said. “We have a couple of kids who are not, but they now know they will be quarantined for 14 days if they’re in close contact while the kids who are vaccinated still get to play, maybe with a mask.
“They got this information. We had a recent kid who got his vaccine two days ago. We have another one who’s going to get it in the next couple weeks. So kids are listening and making decisions.”
Stewart, a Republican mayor, said the truest thing on this afternoon. COVID is non-partisan and no Democrat and no Republican can 100 percent guarantee to keep our community and kids safe.
It’s about recognizing science and the numbers. I’ve already begged and pleaded for high school athletes to get vaccinated. There will be no further begging from me.
The argument is made. Those who haven’t gotten the vaccine are either too lazy, physically or mentally, to get it. Those who have been convinced by their parents, their peers, something they read on the internet not to get vaccinated are playing a fool’s game with other people’s lives. I respect your freedom. Respect mine to call you foolish. It’s a shame you aren’t mandated like many colleges have done.
Now take that previous paragraph and crumble it up and throw it away. It’s my two cents.
Read those CIAC rules above. If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, you are selfish and you will continue to be selfish until you get it. And if you shut down a bunch of your team during the season, don’t come bellyaching about the rules.
You know them in advance. All those parents who so badly demanded football last fall, the rules, the pathway is there for your sons to get through the season. If you ruin the season, own it.
And for all you “freedom fighters” without the vaccine? I’d suggest you take up solitaire. If you force your kids into fall sports without the vaccine, you deserve what you get. If you are one of those parents who are trying to relive your life through your kids, your kids don’t deserve what you are giving them.
“We want to have our team all vaccinated so we have the best opportunity for us to stay together as a team and go to the state championship,” said Booker, a running back/corner for Bloomfield. “I’d say a good majority of us has been vaccinated. I have a feeling it’s a lot of our coaches but also family business.”
Schand of New Britain got vaccinated last spring during his volleyball season.
“It has let me go certain places without the mask,” said Schand, who also plays basketball for the Golden Hurricanes. “If I need to play sports, I’m going to get vaccinated. I need to play sports.
“I told kids you could be a little sick for a couple days or a little sore, but then you’re fine. Get your vaccine.”
Get your vaccine. Lungarini made a point of bringing the athletes out. The CIAC also made a point of bringing in New Britain baseball coach Roberto Mercado to drive home the message in Spanish.
“Kids hearing from kids is always an important message,” Lungarini said. “The other piece I thought was important as well was coach Mercado spoke to our minority and Hispanic communities, which have been hit especially hard by COVID. We weren’t sure he could make it. He’s been coaching in the Cape Cod League.”
Things happen fast in athletics, lightning fast. Sports change. Seasons change. Players are conditioning this week, soon to put on the pads. The CIAC schedule shows Sept. 10 Xavier and Kron will take the field against Norwich Free Academy. Lingering on with its own schedule is COVID-19. Lingering, holding keys to disaster, are the selfish.
“Last year was so up and down,” Kron said. “Now, we’re excited to be out there practicing. We want to keep this season going as long as we can. You never know when it will stop.”