Banin Hassan says there is only one reason she would consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine to boost her first two doses.
“If they make it mandatory and restrict my life’s activities or travel again, I would consider it because I love to travel,” says the 27-year-old Hamilton-based consultant.
“Other than that, nothing could make me change my mind.”
Canadian government data shows that young adults lag behind other age groups. About 35% of people aged 18 to 29 received a third dose. This rises to 42% for those aged 30 to 39. On average, 72% of Canadians aged 40 and over have received theirs.
A Calgary doctor who has studied vaccine hesitancy says he’s not surprised young adults are falling behind.
“Even before the booster, with the second and first dose, we saw much lower uptake in the 25-year-old (group) compared to the over-65 community,” says Dr. Jia Hu, who leads a group that advises on how to increase absorption.
Hu is the CEO of 19 to Zero, made up of doctors, nurses, economists and other experts, which aim to help governments, businesses and communities across Canada build confidence in vaccines.
“One thing that allowed us to get higher vaccination rates in the 30 range was the vaccination mandates, because I don’t think there’s any hesitation in that population (about the shots themselves- same),” Hu said. “In this age group, people are less concerned about COVID causing serious illness. Warrants allow them to live their lives again.”
Hassan’s partner, Humam Yahya, 28, recognizes the benefits of vaccines in reducing serious illnesses, but questions the need to continue getting vaccinated.
“You just get a reminder every eight or 10 months and there’s no end date,” he says. “You just take these vaccines…and I’m sure they have great benefits, but we don’t know the long-term side effects either.”
He says he was initially afraid of contracting COVID-19 because he has asthma.
“I sheltered a lot. But then a lot of friends who got COVID, their side effects and what they got was nowhere near what I thought it would be, so I lost a lot of fear there -low.”
Hamilton woman says COVID-19 is not a high risk for her right now
Hassan adds that some distant family members died early in the pandemic. More recently, she observed close family members and friends who had COVID-19, but with mild symptoms.
“My dad has kidney failure and is on his fourth dose. I fully understand that he needs to do this as his health is a bit more compromised. I would even encourage him to keep taking it. For me , I don’t find COVID a high risk at this point,” says Hassan.
She and Yahya say some friends, especially women, have had bad reactions to the vaccine, so the couple are wary of too high doses.
Liza Samadi, 25, a pharmacy assistant in Hamilton, says she didn’t opt for a booster because it’s not mandatory.
“I was really lazy,” she laughs.
“I just kept delaying, but I ended up having COVID (in January), so I was like, ‘OK, I guess I’m pretty boosted right now, so I haven’t need to get it.
Samadi says his whole family has had COVID-19, so they’re in no rush to get boosted, but they would go for a third shot if it becomes mandatory.
Hu says he “strongly, strongly, strongly” recommends that all Canadians get a boost because the protection from two doses wears off after about six months “and the booster takes you right back.”
He says that even if the booster intake among young adults is too low, he doesn’t think 18- to 29-year-olds with COVID-19 will overwhelm hospitals.
But he adds: ‘Do I think some 25-year-olds could still be hospitalized and die? he says.
“Yes, I know.”