May 26, 2021
Seneca students and employees join millions in Canada to take the shot
COVID-19 vaccines now available to all eligible age groups in Ontario
Toni Pettit can’t bear to look at needles, but when it was her turn to get vaccinated for COVID-19, the Seneca student didn’t think twice about it.
“No hesitation whatsoever,” she said.
Ironically, Ms. Pettit is “against needles” and her mother told her not to get the shot.
“Some people fear that the vaccine is not being vetted enough,” she said. “The reality is that side-effects can happen with anything. I can try a new food and have an allergic reaction to it.”
She admits she’s not an online learner and is eager to get back to having classes on campus. And Ms. Pettit says trusting the experts and getting vaccinated is about doing her part to end the pandemic.
“I have to put my trust somewhere,” she said.
Trust didn’t come as easily for Terri Hylton, International Admissions Adviser at Seneca.
The longtime Seneca employee was initially “vaccine hesitant” in part due to the “Tuskegee Experiment” in the United States in 1932. The experience involved 600 African American men who were falsely told they were receiving free health care from the federal government. In apologizing on behalf of the U.S. government years later, former president Bill Clinton called the experiment racist and shameful.
“Their rights were violated, and because I learned about that, it elevated my hesitancy,” Ms. Hylton said. “These men didn’t give their consent to the experiment, which was misleading, and they suffered.”
With COVID-19 vaccines being developed quickly, Ms. Hylton questioned whether or not she could trust the individuals behind them or the governments promoting the rollout. That changed when she attended a recent virtual town hall hosted by President David Agnew for all employees.
“The key words he used were ‘my responsibility’ and that stuck with me,” she said. “It resonated with me because that’s how I’ve always lived my life — to be responsible, to be the one leading my family.”
To better inform herself, Ms. Hylton did her own research on COVID-19 vaccinations.
“I realized it was my decision to make, and this was what I had to do if I wanted to travel, socialize or come back to work with my peers,” she said. “It is my responsibility to make sure my family and the people around me are safe.”
On Mother’s Day, Ms. Hylton, accompanied by her son, received her first vaccine.
“I’m glad I went,” she said. “It was very meaningful to be there with other people. It was a very comfortable setting and very organized.”