As UNB boasts a 94.3 per cent vaccination rate amidst the fourth wave of infections across New Brunswick, The Baron sat down with UNB Saint John nurse practitioner Terry-Lynne King and nursing students Eric Coombs and Lauryn Conway to help students better understand commonly-asked questions concerning masks, vaccines, and the spreading of COVID-19.
Being fully vaccinated and complying with Public Health guidelines
Many people who are fully immunized against COVID-19 question why measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 still apply to them. King says masks give us an added extra layer of protection. Moreover, those who are fully vaccinated have a much lesser chance of acquiring COVID than those who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated.
“The COVID vaccines that we have received do not guarantee that we’re not going to get COVID. What it means is that we are less likely to get COVID, and if we do get COVID being double vaccinated, the illness is certainly less severe than [for] someone who is not vaccinated,” King says. She states that even those who are fully vaccinated and present with symptoms need to get tested. “Most importantly, we can still carry the virus and pass it along to others” she adds.
In early September of this year, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization announced that it supports providing COVID-19 booster shots for the immunocompromised. King says the intent is that once the immunocompromised and the required age groups receive their third dose, the province will open the accessibility to others.
“It certainly is important that we follow the directions of Public Health and if they recommend a booster dose, we need to do that. That booster dose will do exactly as the name suggests. It is going to boost or elevate our immunity. Because as we know, over time, our immunity can become less [strong] than before” King says.
According to King, it is important that we remember that “booster doses have existed since before COVID”.
Development of the COVID-19 vaccine
A big argument amongst anti-vaxxers is that the COVID-19 vaccine was too quickly developed. Nursing student Eric Coombs was quick to point out that “the research wasn’t just lickedy-split”. He wants to remind us that research has already been underway on coronaviruses before COVID-19 became a global pandemic.
King says that “…the technology that they use for developing the COVID-19 vaccine, especially the MRNA technology, is not a totally new concept”. Furthermore, she notes that science has and continues to evolve so much, so the speed at which the vaccine became available should not be surprising.
Addressing reasons people are not vaccinated
As previously stated, UNB’s vaccination rate is reported as 94.3 percent. New Brunswick’s eligible population is 81.6 per cent fully vaccinated, with 90.4 percent having received a single dose.
Many young people have made quick assumptions as to why not to get the jab. Nursing student Lauryn Conway says the more vaccinated the better. She was quick to remind us that hospitalization of unvaccinated COVID patients is more likely and can have far worse effects than the fully vaccinated.
Furthermore, many young people assume they do not need to get vaccinated because they are young and healthy, but King says this is something she hears often not only in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations, but also immunizations against things like influenza. “What we know is that we, as young and healthy people, can harbour the virus in our respiratory tract… we exhibit no signs or symptoms, and then we can pass it on to someone who is immunocompromised.”
King, Conway and Coombs want to remind students that we have to work together for the greater good. “We may feel well, but we are the vector. We carry it to other people and in turn, are doing harm to others,” King says.
If you have yet to be vaccinated, UNB highly encourages you to in order to protect our community. King, Conway and Coombs say that getting immunized against COVID-19 is the best way to not only protect yourselves but also your community.
How to get your vaccine
Over the past two months, UNB has hosted various immunization clinics on campus. Appointments and walk-ins are also available throughout the city and can be found here. For more information, follow UNB Saint John Student Services on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 even if you are fully immunized, get tested by registering here. A list of potential public exposures can be found here. Students are encouraged to routinely check the UNB website COVID information page and the Government of New Brunswick dashboard.
Rapid testing kits are also available for free all across the province, including the Diamond Jubilee cruise ship terminal on Water St. in Saint John. Anyone can walk in during theirs hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.