Is Covid-19 "vaccine uptake" in postsecondary education a "problem"? A critical policy inquiry.
Since the launch of the Covid-19 global vaccination campaign, postsecondary institutions have strongly promoted vaccination, often through mandates, and the academic literature has identified "vaccine uptake" among postsecondary students as a problem deserving monitoring, research, and intervention. However, with the admission that vaccines do not stop viral spread, that older-age and co-morbidities are major determinants of poor outcomes, and that many vaccine side effects disproportionately affect the young, it cannot be assumed that a risk-benefit analysis favors vaccinating postsecondary students. Drawing from critical policy studies, I appraise the literature on Covid-19 vaccine uptake in postsecondary education. I find that this literature reflects the "scientific consensus," hardly acknowledging contradictory medical evidence, ignoring coercive elements underlying "vaccine acceptance," and neglecting ethical tensions built into the very design of vaccination policies. I discuss potential explanations for my findings, and their implications for academia's role in society in the COVID-19 era and beyond.