Ryerson students, experts divided on three-dose COVID-19 mandates

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By Sania Ali

As Ryerson returns to fully in-person learning after two years, students are divided on whether they want to get third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine mandated for those coming to campus. 

Currently, the Ontario Ministry of Health defines being fully vaccinated as having received two doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

Sommerly Grimaldi-Ertl, a first-year biomedical sciences student, agrees with following public health guidelines even if it means an updated mandate.

“If Canada decided to go ahead and make three [doses mandatory], I think that I definitely would follow it,” says Grimaldi-Ertl. 

“From my perspective, fully vaccinated should actually be three doses versus two doses.”

Ryerson professor and epidemiologist Timothy Sly said there are two perspectives to consider when thinking about a third dose being part of a mandate. One is taking a look at how well it protects against the virus and the other being an acknowledgement that the virus is replicating itself very rapidly through variants around the world. 

Sly said two doses did a great job of protecting individuals from older variants, but as new ones appear, boosters are needed to fight emerging ones. Although he does recommend that those who are able get boosted,  he says recent data reflects that a third dose being mandatory may not be necessary. 

Sly noted that not all individuals will agree with a third dose and a lot of the vaccines in Canada are going to waste. 

“It might be better to insist that a lot of that reserve stuff that we have be sent out to other parts of the world before it expires,” said Sly, emphasizing that many countries around the world still don’t have access to vaccines. 

Alternatively, professor Thomas Tenkate at the School of Occupational and Public Health, said that the federal government should change the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ to include third doses. 

“Once the Omicron variant took over, the two doses really didn’t provide a very good level of protection against serious outcomes,” said Tenkate, “From my perspective, fully vaccinated should actually be three doses versus two doses.” He also says a third dose would provide added protection to the newer variants. 

 “The case numbers in hospitals are going down. While they’re going down, we’re able to ease off on some of these restrictions,” Tenakte said. Although restrictions are easing up and venues are opening up again, Tenkate said it’s still important to maintain social distance and voluntarily get vaccinated when possible to be protected. 

Some students have differing opinions regarding an additional dose. Malika Gholami, a first-year criminology student, says she would not want a third dose as she doesn’t believe it would lessen the spread. 

However, Second-year civil engineering student Juljana Seketa said she is taking a different approach. 

“The whole entirety of a vaccine mandate is a little bit controversial for me, especially for my family,” said Seketa. “It’s very difficult for people with medical conditions, especially with the lack of testing with the vaccine. I had a family member who had heart problems brought on at the age of 30.” 

Seketa said she believes there shouldn’t be a third dose mandate and that people should respect each other’s choices on whether or not they want the vaccine. 

First-year business technology management student, Bhargav Modukuru, said Canada would be much safer mandating third doses. He acknowledged that a certain population would disagree with the mandate but said it’s better to be “safe than sorry.”

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