University in Ontario becomes first to require COVID-19 vaccine for students in residence

May 27 2021, 11:09 am

A Canadian university will require some students to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 when they return to school this fall.

Ontario’s Western University announced on May 27 that students living in residences will need to have received their first dose by the time they move in.

Those who haven’t been vaccinated will have 14 days following their arrival to get immunized on campus.

Students who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons or “other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code” can request an accommodation.

The measure will also apply to students living in residence at Western’s affiliated colleges – Brescia, Huron, and King’s.

“The health of our community is a shared responsibility,” said University President Alan Shepard.

“We’re asking students to play an important role in keeping themselves, their friends and classmates, and our community safe and healthy.”

The university will run an on-campus vaccine clinic later this summer to provide first and second doses to students, staff, and faculty.

Western students living outside of residence are “strongly encouraged” to get vaccinated as soon as they can.

In November, a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the school’s Saugeen-Maitland Hall residence after eight students tested positive for the virus.

The university noted that the measure has been endorsed by its local health unit.

Dr. Christopher Mackie, medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, urged Shepard to consider mandating vaccines for students living in residence.

In a letter sent on May 20, Mackie wrote that the move would “substantially increase” vaccine uptake.

“Vaccination is the single most important intervention in reducing the transmission of COVID-19,” Mackie wrote. “This will be particularly important with the return of students to postsecondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

“[The health unit] strongly supports all efforts to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in congregate living settings such as postsecondary residences.”

Of the 527,280 COVID-19 cases Ontario has seen to date, 12,126 have been in the Middlesex-London Health Unit.

Zoe DemarcoZoe Demarco

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