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Western’s vax mandate for college students is predicated on concern, not science

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The science appears to be different at the University of Western Ontario.

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Western University, one of the largest and most well-known universities in Ontario, has announced that it is in the process of activating a COVID-19 plan that reads as if it were in September 2020 instead of 2022.

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Under this plan, all students, staff and faculty will be required to provide evidence that they have received at least three doses of the approved vaccine. They will also need to wear masks while in the classroom.

It’s a policy that goes well beyond the University of Toronto’s requirement for those living in dorms three shots, and it likely won’t be the last university policy to go that far.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, has moved toward a risk-based approach to questions such as who should be vaccinated. He also doesn’t see the need for mandatory hiding in educational settings, and says he won’t reinstate such measures unless the health system is overburdened by the rising number of COVID patients.

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This is not the case in Ontario at the moment.

South of the border, the Biden-administered Centers for Disease Control has issued convenient COVID guidance on vaccinations, quarantines, and screening of asymptomatic people.

In the West, they are turning again towards mandatory vaccinations, masking of asymptomatic people and daily check-ups.

It simply doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider that most of the students in the school are healthy young adults who are not at risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. When asked about telling young people to get their boosters last month, Dr. Moore didn’t say they should get them, just because they could but that they should take personal circumstances into account.

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It’s not something you ‘should’, Moore said, it is just ‘maybe’, depending on your personal circumstances. “You’ll contemplate whether or not you have got any underlying medical sickness and/or by career, are you uncovered to anybody or in your private life surroundings in case your mother and father are present process chemotherapy? Completely.”

He also said that for many healthy young adults, the risk may not be worth the benefit of continuing to get boosters.

“We know there is a risk, and a very small risk — one in 5,000 — that you might develop myocarditis for example, and this discussion needs to take place about the benefit of the risks of complications from the vaccine versus the benefit of reduced hospitalization for the sake of it,” Moore said.

This discussion cannot occur for young, healthy students at Western or University of Toronto students who wish to live on campus. They may have been completely vaccinated with two doses, and now they are being told that this is not good enough.

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Infectious disease specialist Dr. Neil Rao questions the value of this policy.
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“Doing this in a healthy, young community is really questionable. It’s the wrong intervention in the wrong place at the wrong time in the evolution of COVID,” Rao said.

He is also concerned about this policy, which does not follow public health advice, and which is copied by other large institutions, to show they are the most cautious. It’s a valid concern and the county may need to step in and take action.

Universities are independent bodies, but the province gives them billions each year, which means the government has influence. Perhaps it is time for Premier Doug Ford or his Secretary for Colleges and Universities, Jill Dunlop, to start calling and ask schools to follow actual public health advice rather than enact policies built on the fear of science.

Ontario students have been through a lot over the past several years; They should not face undue restrictions in what should be a return to a normal school year.

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