Western University requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination on campus

Western University's University Community Centre in London, Ont. Andrew Graham / Global News

Western University and affiliated colleges Brescia, Huron and King’s are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff and faculty on campus.

The university in London, Ont., says it made the move after “careful consultation with public health partners and faculty experts in medicine, law and ethics.”

Those without proof of vaccination must be tested twice a week in order to be on campus.

Western has already required that students in residence be vaccinated.

“The health and safety of our community is our top priority, and it’s a shared effort,” said Sarah Prichard, the acting provost and vice-president.

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Western says it’s taking a further step for higher-risk activities by requiring vaccination for students on work and clinical placements, in music programs, as well as for varsity student-athletes, coaches and team staff.

Exemptions will be provided under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The new policy comes as other Canadian post-secondary institutions announced similar steps. Last week, the Council of Ontario Universities and Colleges called on the province to mandate vaccination of post-secondary students, faculty and staff.

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“To support a safe return to campus this fall, the Middlesex-London Health Unit strongly supports all efforts to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination,” said Chris Mackie, the medical officer of health at the MLHU, in a letter to Western president Alan Shepard.

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“This includes policies that require all members of a post-secondary community who present to campus to be either fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or participate in a serial and frequent rapid COVID-19 testing program,” he continued.

With exceptions in regard to human rights, Mackie said the MLHU is also “strongly supportive” of mandatory vaccination for those in higher-risk environments on campus such as those listed above.

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According to a survey conducted earlier this month, Western found nearly 90 per cent of respondents are fully vaccinated, and more than half of those remaining plan to get their COVID-19 vaccines by September.

The survey was sent to more than 62,000 members with a response rate of nearly 50 per cent.

Western says its vaccination and testing centre remains open to all university community members.

Meanwhile, the University of Ottawa has also required all students, staff and faculty members on campus to be fully vaccinated.

The post-secondary institution announced Tuesday that anyone planning to be on campus this fall must have at least an initial dose of the vaccine by Sept. 7 and a second dose by Oct. 15.

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–With files from Global News’ Craig Lord

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