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COVID-19: University of Ottawa students must be vaccinated to live in residence

The University of Ottawa says everyone on campus will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall.
The University of Ottawa says everyone on campus will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

The University of Ottawa says its students planning to live on campus this fall must receive at least an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before moving in.

An addendum to the uOttawa residence agreement made in late June requires students to provide proof of having received at least a first dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine before or within two weeks of their move-in date for the fall term.

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A second dose must also be administered within timelines approved by public health authorities.

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The requirement won’t apply to anyone who can’t get a vaccine because of a medical reason or other exemption under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The policy goes into effect on Aug. 31. Anyone failing to comply with the new rules could see their residence contract terminated, according to the addendum.

“The health of our community is a shared responsibility. We’re asking students to play an essential role in keeping themselves, their friends, classmates, and our community healthy,” uOttawa spokesperson Patrick Charette said in a statement to Global News.

All other faculty, staff and students attending in-person classes will not be required to get a vaccine to be on campus, but Charette noted the university is “strong encouraging” the rest of the uOttawa community to get vaccinated as well as “the most effect means of protecting people and those around them.”

Seneca College in Toronto announced earlier this week that all students wishing to be on campus this fall are required to be vaccinated, while other post-secondary institutions in Ottawa are encouraging, but not mandating, the jab.

Read more: Can private businesses enforce their own COVID-19 ‘vaccine passports’?

“At present, there is no mandatory vaccination required for students or employees who need to be on Algonquin College’s campuses for academic activities, though it is strongly encouraged,” a spokesperson for the college told Global News in a statement.

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The spokesperson said Algonquin College “remains flexible” and is leaving the door open to “evolving” COVID-19 guidelines around vaccinations from public health officials.

Carleton University says in a statement on its website that vaccinations are not currently mandatory for anyone attending its campus, but said any update decisions on the matter would be made in accordance with Ottawa Public Health officials.

But OPH is not wading into the debate on whether campuses in the city should mandate vaccinations.

Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health, told reporters Wednesday that vaccine mandates are “best addressed at the provincial level.”

Read more: What employers can — and cannot — demand for COVID-19 vaccines in Canada

He did say that university settings can be prime spots for transmission, as crowding, close contact and confined spaces can be regular occurrences on campus.

But he said it’s up to universities to have discussions with their health and safety teams as well as their legal and human resources departments to determine how far any vaccine policies can go and what recourses are available if a student or staff member refuses to comply.

“It’s not just simple to say we’ll have a policy. You have to think about how this applies to people,” he said.

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