Last Updated on September 14, 2021 by Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A handful of “concerned Queen’s students” haven’t received the answers they had hoped for as Queen’s University not only stood by their vaccine mandate but strengthened it.
On Thursday Mark Erdman told YGK News that the University had no further comment on a petition started by the students, and had nothing more to offer outside of last week’s update to the vaccine policy.
In the mandate, Queen’s states that all students without a valid accommodation must have their final dose of the vaccine no later than October 15, 2021, and unvaccinated students won’t be permitted on campus.
It also adds self-assessments and masks will be needed in class.
A student identifying anonymously by the name “Daniel” started a petition last week pleading for Queen’s to remove their vaccine mandate and says he’s heard nothing from Queen’s.
The petition has since garnered over 2,200 signatures from both students and individuals not associated with the institution.
It is worth noting that the identities of signees cannot be verified, and the petition appeared to have been shared on anti-vaccine social media pages.
In the petition, Daniel lists reasons such as students not being made fully aware of side effects, vaccines not having an impact on transmission and even goes on to cite the Nuremburg code when alleging the vaccine mandate is a rights violation.
On the topic of transmission, when presented with the fact that a majority of studies point towards a reduction in severity thereby reducing transmission, Daniel says there’s a scientific debate around the topic.
“Studies have shown the vaccine is effective but kind of the key thing is that the main effectiveness is preventing severity of your disease, not necessarily preventing transmission,” Daniel said.
“From my personal reading of the science, I still think the exact effects of transmission especially with the Delta variant aren’t fully known.”
Daniel said his group is emphasizing the fact that vaccinated individuals can still spread the disease, although roughly 80% of cases in Ontario are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals.
He said the mandate makes vaccinated students feel like they are invincible, and instead he thinks Queen’s should enact a policy of testing regardless of vaccination status.
“What we think Queen’s should do is follow universities like Stanford, Brown, Harvard and Princeton and mandate testing for everyone regardless of vaccine status.” Daniel said.
Daniel also noted he’s not against the disease and some among the 13 students he says are involved either are considering getting or have already gotten the vaccine.
He says the point of the petition is that they feel the school is to an extent, covering up the risk associated with the vaccine.
“They haven’t shared any of the risks with the students they just tell students that they have to get this vaccine but they have not told the students there may be risks associated with it.” Daniel said.
He added the members have personally seen others harmed by the vaccine, however no names of such people were provided.
Daniel has also listed myocarditis as one of the main side effects of concern as far as the vaccine goes, but referencing a study in Israel that says myocarditis is more likely following COVID-19 than after the vaccine, he said it isn’t a fair comparison.
“One important thing to note is you’re not guaranteed to get COVID, but you are guaranteed to get the vaccine if you get the vaccine.” Daniel said.
Overall, Daniel and the students say another main concern is Queen’s hasn’t left enough time for students to reconsider their options for the upcoming school year.
Based on Queen’s lack of acknowledgement of the petition and its’ requests, it appears they feel having an online option for unvaccinated students is enough.
Editorial Correction: Not all students have online schooling options, Queen’s communications manager Mark Erdman says willfully unvaccinated students are “being directed to speak with an academic advisor in their faculty or school to explore their academic options, such any online options that may be available to them or deferral.”