University of Ottawa requires students living on campus to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is now mandatory for students planning to live at University of Ottawa residences in the upcoming academic year.

The university’s website says domestic students must provide proof of vaccination and receive at least one dose of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine before their move-in date, or within two weeks of moving in if they arrive unvaccinated.

Students who have had one dose must get their second shot within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health (OPH).

For international students, any vaccine approved by the World Health Organization will be accepted, although students who require a second shot must get one authorized in Canada.

While there are exceptions for health-related reasons or “grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code,” anyone who refuses to get vaccinated without an approved accommodation can have their residence agreement terminated, the university says.

“The university is implementing extensive precautionary measures to offer a safe learning environment,” said spokesperson Patrick Charette in an emailed statement.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most effective means of protecting people and those around them.”

The move comes amid an ongoing debate over whether governments, businesses, workplaces and other institutions should mandate immunization.

Armaan Singh Kheppar, a representative with the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, said his peers are generally supportive of mandatory vaccinations.

“[It would] help ensure that students are as safe as possible,” said Kheppar.

Vaccinations are Encouraged at Carleton, Algonquin

Carleton University and Algonquin College are taking a different approach. Those schools currently aren’t requiring students get vaccinated to live on campus, but are strongly encouraging them to get both shots.

Students living in shared accommodations can request a roommate who is vaccinated, according to Carleton’s website, but the university says it can’t guarantee all requests will be granted.

By mandating vaccination for on-campus student residents, the University of Ottawa is following in the footsteps of a number of Ontario post-secondary schools, including the University of Toronto, Western University and Fanshawe College in London, Trent University in Peterborough, and Durham College in Oshawa.

Seneca College is going a step further by restricting access to campus to only students and employees who are immunized. Hundreds of universities and colleges across the U.S. have also made full vaccination compulsory for all those returning to campus.

The Ontario government, which has jurisdiction over education, hasn’t instituted a similar policy provincewide.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said colleges and universities that receive provincial funding are independent and responsible for both academic and administrative matters.

“To keep students, faculty and staff safe, every school in Ontario has a program in place approved by their local medical officer of health,” the statement said.

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