Universities in Waterloo, Guelph require students to be vaccinated while living in residence

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The three universities in Waterloo Region and Guelph, Ont., joined a growing list of schools across the province that have made it a requirement for students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they choose to live in on-campus residences.

The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, which are both located in the city of Waterloo, said they made the decision based upon the advice of the local medical officer of health.

“We have received new advice from the Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Waterloo that strongly recommends a change to our plans for students living in our residences,” a statement from the University of Waterloo read.

“This means that students who want to live in our residences this academic year must be vaccinated against COVID-19.“

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The University of Waterloo says students will need to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before they move in and will need to provide proof of vaccination beforehand.

Students will have until Nov.1 to get a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Across town, Laurier will handle the situation slightly differently.

“Students will be encouraged to have their first dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine prior to their move-in date, with Laurier recommending they receive it at least 14 days before arriving on campus,” the school said.

“Those who are unable to get vaccinated before moving in will have one week following their move-in date to receive their first dose, with the university helping to facilitate access to vaccines, subject to supply.”

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The school says it surveyed students who were planning to live on campus with 95 per cent indicating they had been or intended to be, vaccinated.

“Laurier students have been doing their part to keep each other and their communities safe. Our students have told us they will be coming back to campus vaccinated,” said Ivan Joseph, vice-president: student affairs.

“We are listening to the science and following the recommendation of public health to move to mandatory vaccinations for students living in residence. This will allow us to get back to the thriving campus community we all want.”

Down the highway in Guelph, the university also said it made the decision after consulting with local and provincial health officials.

It says they noted the importance of the decision, and that a reduction in the transmission of COVID-19 would enable students to enjoy more of campus life.

“Mandatory vaccinations will allow our students living in University residences to take advantage of the many in-person academic courses and extracurricular activities we plan to offer this fall semester,” U of G president Charlotte Yates stated.

Guelph’s policy will fall along the same lines as Laurier’s, where students will have seven days upon arrival to get a first shot and will need to get a second as soon as they can.

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The schools say the requirement will not be enforced on those who can’t be vaccinated due to a medical reason or other exemption under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

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Other Ontario post-secondary schools that have made the same two-dose requirement for students in residence include McMaster University in Hamilton, Western University in London and the University of Toronto.

Seneca College in Toronto and Confederation College in Thunder Bay are requiring vaccinations for all students and staff on campus.

-With files from Global News’ Don Mitchell

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