Update (Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021)
The claim made by the interviewee, Daniel, that 98 per cent of Queen’s students are vaccinated is inaccurate at the current time.
A Queen’s University Residence Update Aug. 12, 2021, indicates that “Students living in residence are subject to a vaccination status mandatory disclosure process. Information to date reflects that 98 per cent of students living in residence have indicated that they plan to be vaccinated, including 82 per cent who are already fully vaccinated, and a further 16 per cent have committed to completing the process in the coming weeks.”
“We have publicly shared that 98 per cent indicated they are or intend to be vaccinated by move-in as the letter writer notes,” Queen’s University said in an email to Kingstonist on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, which also noted that the University has updated their Mandatory Vaccination Policy as of the same date.
That update indicates that Queen’s is implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all individuals participating in university activities in person. COVID-19 testing will no longer be an option for those who are not vaccinated or not fully vaccinated in accessing campus. Instead, the University is “implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all individuals (students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors) participating in university activities in person, either on Queen’s campus or other Queen’s property.” This comes after “all universities and colleges in Ontario received a letter from the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health (COMOH), recommending mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies at all post-secondary institutions across the 34 Public Health regions in the province,” Queen’s states in their updated mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
Queen’s did not provide any further comment regarding the petition against the mandatory vaccination policy.
A group of 13 Queen’s students recently started a petition against the University’s vaccine mandate. The petition, which has over 700 signatures, was submitted to Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
Kingstonist spoke to one of the students, Daniel, on condition of anonymity. Daniel explained that he and the others in his group are afraid that they will face personal threats and repercussions from others in the Queen’s community if they come forward with their real identities.
“Online, we have had many comments from people who are supporting us, but also some very angry, hateful comments,” he explained, noting that one comment went so far as suggesting that unvaccinated people should be subjected to a campaign of “genocide.”
He went on to say that no one in the group, which includes graduate as well as undergrad students, has faced pressure from the staff at Queen’s, but “It is early going and no one has mentioned to any of their supervisors if they are unvaccinated.”
“We’re about 13 students, who just met each other online, and all of us are against this policy. So, we were getting together to basically write this petition. We are concerned that this policy was very quickly rushed through without fully considering all the impacts it will have on students,” Daniel explained.
“One, we think it’s unnecessary because Queen’s surveys the members of the community and residents. They already say that 98 per cent of students are vaccinated. Two per cent are unvaccinated. So that’s a very small number.”
He also expressed the group’s concern for people who have a legitimate medical reason to go unvaccinated. “For example, international students are coming in, who have received different vaccines than in Canada, and now they have to get a third dose of the vaccine here. We’re concerned that some people will be pressured to get this vaccine against medical advice,” he said.
This is reflected in the petition, which reads, “We are concerned that Queen’s has neglected students’ safety by failing to consider possible adverse reactions and medical reasons to avoid getting vaccinated. There exist several situations when health authorities advise against getting vaccinated; these include being allergic to a vaccine ingredient, having an unstable immune system, or having recently received an unapproved COVID-19 vaccine such as those taken by many international students arriving at Queen’s,” and, “These common circumstances affect many Queen’s students who may feel pressured by the mandate to get vaccinated against medical advice, potentially putting their health at risk.”
Daniel said that he has a medical condition that predisposes him to heart problems and that “COVID-19 vaccines also come with a risk of possible adverse side-effects that include myocarditis, a potentially serious medical condition that can lead to a heart attack and permanent heart damage.” Also, studies have shown that the vaccines, both Pfizer and Moderna, can cause myocarditis, especially in males between 12 and 29 years of age, “a group forming a large part of the student population at Queen’s.”
He also expressed that at least one member of the group has experienced extreme vaccine anxiety and panic attacks due to fear of the vaccine and pressure to take it.
“I’ve been getting some pretty awful stories,” he continued. “For example, one person was saying that their parents are basically at home threatening to physically take and stuff her into the car to drive her off and get the vaccination against her will. We have people who are saying that their parents are willing to cut them off financially if they refuse to get the vaccine. So they don’t want it, but they know that if they don’t get it, they get no money, they have no options. Some people are under a lot of pretty intense pressure.”
Daniel also expressed concerns about the timing of the mandate.
“We’re concerned that this was announced just a few weeks before the start of classes, which has left some people with no time to make any changes, or even thinking about taking a year off if they have no other choice,” he said.
“We certainly support anyone who wants to be vaccinated, we just believe it to be a personal choice. 98 per cent of students already have this vaccine: so, why do the remaining 2 per cent, who refuse it have it, need to? It’s just causing so much suffering, but with no benefit to it.”
Kingstonist reached out to Queen’s University for comment or a statement on this matter, but none were received before time of publication. Kingstonist will update this article if/when more information becomes available.
You can read the student petition for yourself here.