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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Faas

Faas: Canisius not mandating vaccine puts us all at risk

Updated: Sep 17, 2021

Photo credit: Tessa Pszonak

The coronavirus pandemic that we have been enduring for over a year has been one of the most monumental events in my lifetime. It is something that has touched me personally and, for lack of a better word, tipped my life upside down. Now, that seems dramatic, yes, and some people have lost way more than I have. I am fortunate enough to have not lost any loved ones, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

However, I am a member of the class of 2020 (collective sigh). I lost my senior musical, prom, regular graduation and honestly the freshman year experience. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though: I and many of my peers have chosen to get the lifesaving vaccine in order to protect ourselves and each other from this deadly disease.

Sadly, many of my peers have chosen to not get the vaccine. My frustration is not with those who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical conditions. It is with those who have politicized this public health crisis. They have turned to selfish reasons, ridiculous ideas and outlandish conspiracies. This is horribly disappointing.

Many colleges and universities around the nation have chosen to mandate the vaccine in order for students to return to full-time, in-person learning. Now that the vaccine is FDA approved for non-emergency use, all students in the SUNY and CUNY systems will be required to be vaccinated. This has caused quite a bit of backlash from the students and parents alike; however, it is what the colleges are doing to protect not only their students, but the entire campus community.

On July 22, Canisius College released a statement that while the vaccine is “highly encouraged,” the College will not be mandating it for residents or commuters for the fall 2021 semester.

Resident students were required to present either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test before returning to campus. Non-vaccinated students have also been charged an extra $250 fee to cover the cost of COVID-19 tests throughout the semester. Students in the Physicians Assistant Program, as well as close contact programs like campus ministry immersion trips and the pre-med mission trip, will have vaccination requirements. The MAAC has issued a vaccine mandate for all student-athletes. Canisius voted to oppose this.

I fully acknowledge that the danger is not to me. I am currently fully protected against the virus thanks to my vaccination status. My worry is for those who are not vaccinated. While I am frustrated that they have chosen not to get the vaccine, it does not mean that I don’t care about them — my peers are still a vital part of our community. They feel like brothers and sisters, and to lose any of them to coronavirus would be devastating.

The fact of the matter is, the Delta Variant is here. The longer people wait to get vaccinated, the faster it is going to spread, and more variants could continue to develop.

With all aspects of college beginning to return to normal, including fewer masking mandates, I am nervous. I am afraid that our cases will be up, and that we may be required to shut down. I worry that if my unvaccinated peers unknowingly bring the virus into the classroom, it could be transmitted to someone with immunocompromised loved ones or to children (or even to those of us who are vaccinated).

Unvaccinated people pose a risk towards those who cannot get vaccinated, as well as those of us who are vaccinated, and THAT is why it's so frustrating that Canisius won't require it and therefore protect all of us.

Remember that being vaccinated means if you are exposed to COVID-19, your body is better at fighting it off: it doesn't make us immune to getting or spreading it.

I wish my unvaccinated peers were more willing to take off their rose-colored glasses and see the truth. They are now a threat to the health and safety of our campus community. I wouldn’t blame my professors if they desired to return to a hybrid format due to this information.

We are not out of the woods yet, and it’s scary that so many people think we are.

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