Full vaccination to be mandatory for students living in Brock University residences

A high rate of COVID-19 vaccination is an important part of Brock University’s plan for a significant return to on-campus classes and activity this fall.

With the health and safety of the Brock community as a top priority, the University announced Monday, July 26 that full vaccination will be mandatory for all students living in on-campus residences.

“Reducing the spread of COVID-19 through vaccination is critical because of the close living arrangements in student residences,” said Brock University Vice-President, Administration Ken Chan. “As such, and after engaging with regional and provincial public health officials, we are taking this step to require that students living on campus are fully vaccinated.”

Residence students must have one dose prior to moving into their rooms on campus, and their second dose within 14 days of moving in.

However, Chan, the former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Secretariat, said it is recommended that students receive their second dose at least 14 days before moving in, where possible.

“Being fully vaccinated not only offers protection from the harmful effects of COVID-19, but it also enables students to participate in student life safely,” he said.

The University will recognize Health Canada-approved vaccines as well as vaccines on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing. Exemptions will be allowed based on medical and Ontario Human Rights Code grounds.

Students who have registered to attend residence in the fall will receive further information by email in the coming days, and more information can be found on the Residence FAQ page here.

With fewer than 45 days before the start of the Fall Term, the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU), Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the University itself are also encouraging all students to get vaccinated.

Last week, BUSU released its latest in a series of social media posts and videos encouraging students to get fully vaccinated, pointing out that public health officials recommend 28 days between doses and say it takes 14 days after the second dose before the vaccine is considered fully effective.

“Canada’s vaccination rate remains among the highest in the world, but unfortunately our age demographic from 18 to 29 has one of the lowest rates of fully vaccinated people,” said BUSU President Rafay Rehan. “Our team at BUSU is trying to change that by tackling misinformation and advocating for easy vaccine access on campus.

“We’re getting clear messaging out to students on how this is our shot to get back to doing the things we love and getting back to campus life. These next few weeks are critical to our campaign, especially with the first day of classes around the corner.”

Similarly, the GSA has been using its social media platforms to encourage students to take part in the on-campus vaccination options or get vaccinated in their home regions.

“Whether it’s to conduct research or to collaborate with colleagues, being on campus is such an important part of the graduate student experience,” said GSA President Christopher Yendt. “We know that the higher the rate of vaccination among students and the Brock community, the more things can open up, so we want to make sure that our students are getting vaccinated and that there are no roadblocks stopping that from happening.”

In order to help make getting vaccinated easier for its students, the University’s Student Health Services has been running a vaccination clinic at Harrison Hall for all students, including those starting at Brock this fall.

Since launching last month, nearly 300 students have received their vaccinations at the ongoing clinic.

“We’re extremely pleased that our students are taking advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated as we all prepare for a significant return to campus in September,” said Interim Brock President Lynn Wells. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our students to get vaccinated, and I want to thank staff in Student Health Services for making this clinic possible.”

Whether through the Brock vaccine clinic or by taking advantage of other community options, there are positive signs that students are getting the message.

Prior to the University’s mandatory vaccine announcement for residence students Monday, more than 2,000 undergraduates and graduate students planning to live in residence rooms responded to an anonymous survey about their plans, with more than 94 per cent reporting they were planning to get vaccinated.

While the provincial government has said colleges and universities may reopen in September with no limits on class sizes or social distancing requirements, medical face coverings may still be required, and Brock has taken significant steps to ensure the health and well-being of all students, faculty and staff.

“Throughout this pandemic and as we look ahead to the Fall Term, the safety of our students and of the whole Brock community has always remained our top priority,” said Wells. “The goal in September is to give students the exceptional on-campus experience they have come to expect from Brock University in a safe environment.”

To register for the student vaccination clinic at Harrison Hall, visit the Student Wellness and Accessibility website.

For more information on public vaccination options such as the community clinic hosted at Brock’s Ian Beddis Gymnasium over the weekend, visit the Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 vaccination website.

To read more about Brock’s plan for the fall, visit brocku.ca/fall