With just a week to go before university classes resume for another year, Interior Health (IH) has teamed up with the University of British Columbia-Okanagan (UBC-Okanagan) to hold vaccine clinics on campus.
“We’re working very closely with Interior Health and here on the coast with Vancouver Coastal Health to provide our students with access to drop-in vaccine opportunities,” said Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations.
The first of three clinics was held Monday, inviting students to drop in for a COVID-19 vaccine shot.
“I think it’s very convenient, especially for someone coming from another country, just to have something that’s across your residence. I think it’s very convenient especially considering where I’m from, the vaccine process has been quite slow,” said first-year student Njabulo Dlamini, who hails from South Africa.
The clinic was held just days after UBC, which has campuses in both Vancouver and Kelowna, announced that proof of vaccination will be required on campus.
“We’re going to implement a process of confidential self-disclosure vaccination status for all of those who have access to our campuses,” said Ramsey.
“That include students, faculty, staff and visitors.”
Ramsey said those who are not vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccine status will be required to undergo rapid testing.
“We are developing an app that is unique to UBC’s needs,” he told Global News. “When they have the results of that rapid test, they will be asked to upload them into the app so that they can provide that information to folks who are monitoring.”
The development of the app is described as complex, but Ramsey said the university is confident it will be ready very soon.
UBC joins other major universities in B.C. and across the country in implementing a proof of vaccination and rapid test policy.
The rapid tests will be provided and paid for by UBC but how, when and where they will be administered and whether more staff will have to be hired to enforce it all remains to be seen.
“These measures are going to require a lot of complex decision-making,” Ramsey said.
“We’re not really clear yet on whether that will mean more people or how it’s going to shake out on the ground, but we will have that information coming in the days ahead and we will provide it to our community as soon as we have it.”
The policy comes on the heels of a previously announced public health order requiring proof of vaccination for a wide range of non-essential services and public activities, including going to restaurants, attending ticketed sporting events and residing in student housing.
While most students who spoke to Global News at UBC Okanagan were in support of a proof of vaccination to attend campus, some had mixed feelings.
“I think you should be encouraged to do so but I don’t know if it should be a mandatory thing,” said student Jamie Rhan.
Ramsay said a recent survey of all registered UBC Vancouver students (undergraduate and graduate; domestic and international) revealed that, as of Aug. 16, 92 per cent of the responding students (16,093 participated) are partially or fully vaccinated.
Ramsay said similar vaccination status information will be collected for UBC Okanagan in the near future.
“We’re not ready to speculate but we would imagine it would be in line with what we are seeing in Vancouver,” Ramsay said.
IH has scheduled two more clinics on the UBC-O campus.
One will take place Sept. 8, the other is scheduled for Sept. 17. Both will take place in the foyer of the administration building from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.