North London Vaccination center5.jpg

The North London Vaccination Centre, March 17, 2021.

All students moving into a Western residence this fall must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The announcement came early Thursday and will be enforced “as long as Ontario’s [vaccine] supply allows.” The Middlesex-London Health Unit encouraged and endorsed the decision. 

“Mandating vaccine for residents of post-secondary residences would substantially increase vaccine uptake,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, chief medical officer of health with the MLHU, in a letter to Western president Alan Shepard May 20 — a week before the university announcement. 

The mandate will also apply to students in affiliate college residences.

“Vaccination is the single most important intervention in reducing the transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Mackie. “This will be particularly important with the return of students to postsecondary institutions.”

Western University will be running an on-campus vaccination clinic in late summer to support all students, staff and faculty getting vaccinated. Students moving into residence who cannot access shots over the summer will have 14 days after their move into residence to be vaccinated. 

Students in residence who cannot be vaccinated for medical or “other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to request accommodation from Western. 

The Ontario Human Rights Code says institutions should strive to accommodate those who cannot be vaccinated “for reasons related to disability or creed, unless it would amount to undue hardship based on cost or health and safety. 

The vaccine mandate for students in residence will mostly affect incoming first-years. Western announced in April that residences would not accommodate upper-year students in the fall in order to ensure enough space frosh with distancing measures in place.

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Hope Mahood is the Coordinating Editor of news and opinions for volume 115. Email her at hope.mahood@westerngazette.ca or find her on Twitter @hopemahood.

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