Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — A Toronto university’s decision to require those living in student residences to have at least three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine may encourage young adults to take the third dose, but it won’t lead to a significant increase unless other schools follow suit, experts say.
The University of Toronto announced last week that it was reinstating a vaccination requirement for people living in its residence halls and updating it to mandate at least a booster dose. She also recommended that everyone else on campus stay “up to date” on their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dr. Fahad Razak, scientific director of the Ontario Scientific Advisory Group for COVID-19, said the policy could help increase uptake of the booster dose among young adults, pointing to the large number of students in university and evidence of the effect of vaccine requirements.
But he said there would likely be a greater impact on booster adoption if other universities and colleges implemented a similar policy.
“There seems to be pretty strong evidence that when you require vaccination to be done in a certain space, more people end up getting vaccinated because of that,” he said.
“If more universities followed a similar policy, you would likely see an increase in taking the third dose of the vaccine, or potentially even other doses.”
The third dose coverage rate in the 18-29 age group is currently about 36% nationally, which is lower than all other adult age groups in the country. Canada. By comparison, about 86% of this age group received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto, said having post-secondary institutions “align” with vaccine policies would help encourage young adults to receive their third dose.
“It’s never great when only one or two do something and the others don’t,” she argued. “People can choose not to go to places that have additional requirements if they feel weary of it and there are other options.”
Dr. Hota added that vaccine requirements should evolve over time as more doses become available to provide maximum protection, especially as vaccine immunity wanes over time.
“It’s really about keeping up to date with immunizations,” she explained.
With the current variants spreading, Mr Razak and Ms Hota said having at least three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine gives people a “better degree of protection” against the virus than just two doses. Dr. Razak pointed out that three doses can also prevent worsening of the disease and disruptions in a person’s life.
Razak suggested vaccination is “only part of the strategy” against COVID-19, and said universities, which often have older buildings, should invest in water filtration systems. air and also promote the wearing of masks.
The University of Toronto Students’ Union said it supports the university’s policy of requiring three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for those moving into campus residence halls, adding that she is “deeply grateful to see the university being proactive and cautious as we enter another unpredictable fall.”
However, the association stressed that “the responsibility for reducing COVID-19 in residence halls should not be placed solely on students.” She asked the university to continue its sewage testing initiative, to continue to offer rapid drug tests to students, to improve the ventilation of its buildings and to frequently disinfect common areas.
The university stopped requiring proof of vaccination for those attending in-person classes on May 1. It has also gradually lifted the requirement to wear the mask in indoor spaces, but still encourages people to wear it in high-density indoor spaces when physical distancing is not possible.