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There has been considerable debate regarding mandatory vaccine uptake among the general population, excluding those who have medical exemptions. The World Health Organization states that “policy-makers should consider specifically whether vaccines authorized for emergency or conditional use meet an evidentiary threshold for safety sufficient for a mandate.” Ontario’s chief medical officer, Dr Kieran Moore, put out a “call for arms” to younger individuals who are more likely to socialize and become hosts for widespread infection.
Currently, the Government of Canada has not enforced mandatory COVID-19 vaccine uptake. However, as universities and colleges prepare for full-time in-person learning, educators and planners have questioned whether full, or at least partial, vaccination status is necessary as well as feasible. Schools such as the University of Toronto and Western University of Ontario are requiring vaccination for all dormitory residents. Other universities such as Seneca College have mandated vaccination for all students returning to in-person learning.
Why should universities and colleges require students to be vaccinated?
To date, over 193 million cases of COVID-19 and 4 million deaths worldwide have been recorded. An increasing number of individuals are reporting symptoms of long COVID syndrome (also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 and post-COVID-19 syndrome).
Currently, Health Canada has approved four vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca/Covishield, and Janssen), which have demonstrated sufficient efficacy. They’ve also demonstrated efficacy in decreasing caseload and community spread. Taken together, the benefits of vaccination to the individual and community at large are associated with little cost (eg, rare side effects). Additionally, increased vaccination rates and decreased caseload mean that healthcare facilities will be able to better manage their services.
Overall, there’s a strong cost-benefit profile to COVID-19 vaccination when compared with the alternatives, such as social distancing, lockdown, and masking, which are unsustainable approaches to controlling the spread of the virus.
Let’s be honest: It’s quite easy to break these preventive measures and cause another wave. It’s unwise to believe that all of these measures would continue to be enforced by the population.
It’s also unwise to believe that individuals would come forward to receive their vaccine if it were not mandatory (or if non-vaccination status meant exclusion from social events such as concerts and indoor dining). With the advent of the anti-vaccination movement, as well as general uncertainty around the long-term safety profile of the vaccine, many have become hesitant.
Créditos: Comité científico Covid