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Canada: major universities mandate vaccines

Several major Canadian universities – including Toronto, Ottawa, Queen’s and Western – are requiring students and staff to be fully vaccinated in order to be on campus.

Western University is requiring those without proof of vaccination to be tested twice a week in order to be on campus. Photo: Western University

Individuals without proof of vaccination must be tested twice a week in order to be on Western University campuses

Additionally, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has said it is planning to require proof of vaccination to support the reopening of international travel.

The University of Ottawa, in the Canadian capital, has become the first university in the country to mandate vaccinations.

“At the University of Ottawa, we believe that the health of our community comes first, and this is a responsibility for all of us to share,” the school said in a statement.

“Vaccination is our clearest path to a safe campus”

It is requiring students, faculty and visitors to have their first jab by September 7 and to be double-vaccinated by October 15.

While University of Ottawa has not had an outbreak on campus to date, it is worried about the low vaccination rates of Canadians age 18-39 and the risks posed by a possible fourth wave.

At the University of Toronto, students, staff and visitors must be fully vaccinated or provide a negative test result.

Western University also announced a vaccine requirement for its campus and those of its affiliated colleges – Huron, Brescia and King’s. Individuals without proof of vaccination must be tested twice a week in order to be on campus.

“The health and safety of our community is our top priority – and it’s a shared effort,” said Sarah Prichard, acting provost and vice-president (academic). “Vaccination is our clearest path to a safe campus.”

Ontario University Institute of Technology also announced vaccine requirements.

Previously, Seneca College, one of Canada’s largest post-secondary institutions with 97,000 students, became the first college in the country to require vaccinations. St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario, has since followed suit.

About 23 Canadian schools are requiring students living in residence to be vaccinated – but are not mandating it for everyone on campus.

Most post-secondary institutions have strongly encouraged staff and students to get vaccinated, but have been reluctant to require them. This reticence stands in sharp contrast to the US. More than 662 American colleges and universities are demanding those on campus to be vaccinated. This includes all of the 25 top schools as selected by US News magazine, such as Princeton, Harvard and Stanford.

It is unclear why Canadian post-secondary institutions are lagging behind the US on vaccine mandates. In Canada, vaccines are free and widely available. Almost 60% of Canadians are currently fully vaccinated and 71% have received one dose. International students, permanent residents and Canadian citizens can all receive the vaccine.

Updated: August 12, 17:00 GMT

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