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Laurier, UW and Conestoga students living in residence during 2021-2022 academic year required to be vaccinated (update)

After the region's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, emphasized the need for high rates of vaccination in the student population
COVID-19 Vaccine 1

Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Waterloo, and Conestoga College announced Thursday that they will require students living in residence for the upcoming school year to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Laurier said it will require students living in residence to have received at least one shot two-weeks before arriving on campus. Those who are unable to get vaccinated beforehand will have one week after they move in to get their first dose. 

"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. Students in residence who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code will be able to submit a request for accommodation," said a release from WLU. 

Students are asked to keep all emails, receipts, and records of their vaccination status. More details will be provided directly to students on how to confirm their vaccination status, or request an exemption. You can learn more by clicking here.

The University of Waterloo said it will require all first year, upper year, graduate, and live-in student staff to receive a first dose before their scheduled residence move-in date, and provide proof of vaccination.

A release said, "Residents must also get a second dose of an approved vaccine as soon as possible within the recommended time period and provide proof that they have done so by November 1, 2021." You can learn more by clicking here.

Conestoga College also made an announcement regarding vaccinations for students living in residence on Thursday.

"Conestoga students living in residence will be required at minimum to have their first dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine at least 14 days prior to their move-in date and should aim to be fully vaccinated with two doses," read a press release sent by the college.

Those who are are not able to be vaccinated for medical reasons or other criteria can submit a request for accommodation. You can learn more about Conetoga's policy by clicking here.

This comes after Waterloo Region's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, released a statement on vaccination policies for post-secondary institutions, emphasizing that high rates of vaccination in the student population will be critical to Ontario's pandemic control.

You can read Dr. Wang's full statement below.

“As post-secondary institutions across Ontario prepare for students to return to in-person learning and on campus living for the 2021-2022 academic year, ensuring high rates of vaccination among the student population will be critical to Ontario’s pandemic control.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular, the Delta variant have had a significant impact on Waterloo Region. Since the second wave of the pandemic, overall case volumes have been highest among those age 20-29 years. While COVID-19 tends to be less severe among younger people, variants of concern have led to an increase in ICU admission rates across all age groups. Furthermore, due to the higher contact rates of younger populations, transmission among this age group has contributed to sustaining community transmission.

Congregate living settings also pose unique risks for transmission of COVID-19. On-campus residences are high density, contain shared common spaces, and may present challenges to effective isolation should a student become infected. For these reasons, the highest two-dose vaccination coverage achievable among the student population will be our strongest tool to prevent local outbreaks, including in such settings, in the upcoming academic year.

Region of Waterloo Public Health strongly recommends vaccination in all members of our community and that post-secondary institutions in Waterloo Region pursue policy options that would facilitate the highest vaccination coverage possible among its population, as well as readily available and convenient access to vaccines through your post-secondary health services. I strongly encourage a mandatory reporting of immunization policy for students who choose to live on-campus in residences, which would substantially increase vaccine uptake. This could include a requirement for proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (or proof of exemption) for all individuals residing in on-campus residences. Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act and its associated regulations provide an example of a similar immunization policy, as well as an approach to providing rare and reasonable exemptions. Vaccination rates for the vaccines covered under the Act in Ontario schools are all very high.

Thank you for working to support the health and safety of our community.

Sincerely,

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang

Commissioner and Medical Officer of Health

Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services”

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