Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates worldwide, nearly 20 per cent of Canada’s population is unwilling to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
As of August 27, nearly 83 per cent of those eligible for vaccination have received their first dose, and about 65 per cent are fully vaccinated, according to data from the federal government.
While Western and its affiliated university colleges have a COVID-19 vaccination policy that applies to all students, faculty, staff and visitors, there is no national or provincial vaccination mandate.
When it comes to the highly contagious Delta variant, unvaccinated people continue to be of greatest concern. Delta accounts for the majority of recently reported cases in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Although vaccinated people could still contract the disease, most reported cases with hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people, the agency said.
Members of the campus community shared their motivations for getting vaccinated with Western News.
“Getting the vaccine was one of the easiest decisions of my life; the benefits hugely outweigh the very low risks. I got both of my shots as soon as I was eligible to: AstraZeneca first and then Pfizer (but would have taken any shot available). I strongly believe the clear scientific evidence that vaccination makes me much less likely to become infected by COVID-19, and therefore makes it much less likely that I infect others. Like most things in biology, protection is not 100 per cent, but by getting the vaccine, my chances of infection are much, much lower. Thus, I got the vaccine to protect myself, which will also allow me to visit my aging parents in Germany, whom I have not seen for two years, and to protect others, including four of my grandchildren who are still too young to be vaccinated themselves.
—Frank Beier, professor and chair, department of physiology and pharmacology
Canada Research Chair in Musculoskeletal Research
—Nicole Campbell, professor, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry
“I am lucky to have grown up in a close-knit community with people of all ages. Given how easily transmittable COVID-19 is, I got vaccinated as soon as I was eligible because I wanted to protect the health of my community members — namely those most at risk from contracting COVID-19 and those that cannot get the vaccine. Getting vaccinated is one way we can give back to our communities and ensure we are all safe, healthy and well.”
—Zamir Fakirani, president
University Students’ Council of Western
“I took the first vaccine I could because I trust the science and approval processes for vaccines. I feel lucky to be among the eligible people in good health to be vaccinated. To me, getting the shot is like putting on the oxygen mask dangling from the ceiling of an airplane: you need to take care of yourself first. As a mom of two children, one double-dosed and one not yet old enough, I try to take the preventative approach to my health. By demonstrating my willingness to take the vaccine, I hope my children also feel confident in their decisions to get vaccinated too. I’m grateful and relieved that we as Canadians have access to a vaccine supply. The way I see it, the least I can do for my community is to take my two doses.”
Administrative Coordinator, Principal Gifts
—Sarah Elnaffar, first-year, Education
“After witnessing family, friends, and strangers suffer from the debilitating COVID-19 during the past year and a half, I felt a strong urge to mitigate the risk of myself unknowingly transmitting this disease to those around me. This came about through various lifestyle changes: wearing a mask when I am out in public, washing and sanitizing my hands more frequently, and mindfully practicing physical distancing. However, this did not come without its inconveniences, such as not being able to see friends and distant relatives, causing a rather boring albeit safer 2020/2021. When my age group was finally offered the vaccine, I immediately booked an appointment to get my first dose. I felt better knowing that I was doing my part in protecting those that I was already close with, those that I have yet to meet, and above all, the greater community as a whole.”
—Lance Javier, third-year, Integrated Sciences