UW gets vaxxed: students share their vaccination experience

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As of May 14, more than 1.45 billion people worldwide have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. With pre-registration for vaccines now available to individuals over the age of 12 in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, vaccines bring hope of a return to normalcy and to the UW campus.

At a virtual town hall on May 11, UW president Feridun Hamdullahpur announced plans to return to in-person learning in the fall. 

Hamdullahpur said he hopes that many students and staff will voluntarily be vaccinated by the start of the next term. However, it is not yet known if vaccinations will be required for community members to return to campus. 

“My tendency is towards that requirement. If we can do that,” Hamdullahpur said. 

Hamdullahpur added that the university is currently “seeking a number of avenues, either, ethical, legal, or societal aspects of a requirement.”

Disha Parekh, a second-year accounting and financial management student received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Toronto at the Centennial College vaccination clinic in early May.

“I always wanted to get the vaccine because it’s so important to play a role in the community, in keeping the community safe and getting rid of the pandemic. I was actually really excited when we finally got the appointment,” Parekh said. 

After seeing rollout success in other countries, Aryan Narang, an economics and business student, decided to get vaccinated and received his first dose of the Moderna vaccine. 

“Honestly, right from the start, I was kind of skeptical of the vaccine itself just because of the side effects and stuff like that,” Narang said.

As an international student, Narang looked forward to experiencing life in Canada in addition to getting UW education. “My primary focus was not just to study in the university, but also explore Canada in the nearby area,” Narang said. 

During the town hall, Hamdullahpur said supports and services will be available to international students who may not be able to return to campus. 

“They [international students] leave home, just to be here with us, to have their education at the University of Waterloo, so we have to give it a lot of very serious consideration,” Hamdullahpur said.

Akshay Saxena, a software engineering student who received the Moderna vaccine, said he recommends calling to book an appointment for the vaccination if anyone has difficulty with booking an appointment online. 

“There’s a bunch of numbers they can call to book an appointment, and spam calling works,” Saxena said. 

Anupriya Pandey, a math/financial advisory and risk management student, said she experienced a sore arm and a fever after receiving the Moderna vaccine. According to the CDC, these are common side-effects of the vaccine. Other side effects include: pain, redness and swelling on the arm the vaccine was administered, tiredness, headache, muscle pains, chills, fever and nausea, although some people may not experience any side-effects. 

Pandey pre-registered for the vaccine and was told she would get an appointment after four-to-six weeks, however, she was able to find a phone number in the KW region to book the appointment. 

“Two of my friends got vaccinated, so they gave me a number to dial…It was a very informal procedure where they just asked [for] my postal code and they gave me a slot the next day,” Pandey said.

Aditya Dhanasekharan, a third-year mathematics and business administration student, said he received the Moderna vaccine. “Personally, I don’t think there’s that much to be scared about vaccines,” Dhanasekharan said. 

“I just want to tell them [UW students] that it’s not as harmful as some people make it seem,” Dhanasekhran said. “It’s actually just temporary. Tolerating that pain for the first couple of days might just be really useful.”

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