Western is conducting a survey of the campus community to gauge vaccination rates and inform health and safety measures as the university prepares for the fall term.
The confidential survey of all Western students, faculty and staff launches August 4.
While countries around the world push to increase vaccination rates, mandatory vaccination in Canada’s public sectors has yet to take a firm hold.
In the absence of a mandate from the provincial government or local health units, universities in Ontario are focusing on vaccine accessibility, community campaigns, testing and enhanced safety measures.
“The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff are our top priority,” said Western president Alan Shepard. “Our policies and procedures continue to be informed by local public health experts as well as Western’s faculty experts in medicine, law and ethics.
“The survey is an important aspect of Western’s comprehensive plan to ensure that we implement safe and evidence-based measures as we welcome our community back this September.”
Western was the first Canadian university to require vaccination for all students living in residence, a move that others in Ontario followed. “That decision was very well-received,” Shepard said.
Shepard acknowledged that calls to make vaccination required for all students, faculty and staff continue. “Questions around mandatory vaccination and the threat of the Delta variant have made the circumstances of the pandemic even more dynamic,” Shepard said. “We are actively exploring all of our options, as expert guidance evolves in response to the pandemic.”
Western’s on-campus testing and vaccination centre is open and available to all university community members.
The university continues to require masks for all indoor activities, and is implementing enhanced cleaning and health screening across campus. Ventilation systems in buildings are also being assessed and optimized throughout the summer.
The university continues to consult with its joint health and safety committee as well as leaders of employee and student unions and associations as it continues to develop fall reopening plans.
Shepard added that vaccination is the critical path forward to ending this pandemic. “Those of us who are able to be vaccinated are morally obligated to do so to ensure the safety of those in our community who are most vulnerable.”
The Western community vaccination survey closes August 9.