Following Health Canada’s approval of Moderna’s updated bivalent vaccine targeting the Omicron variant, Western University has extended the deadline in its vaccine policy for the campus community to receive a booster shot.
The booster deadline was extended to Jan. 9, 2023 after the Sept. 1 announcement by Health Canada prompted the university to conduct further consultation with experts in the areas of infectious disease, epidemiology, family medicine and members of the Western community.
“Western has made and will continue to make decisions based on the best available data, science and advice from experts,” said Florentine Strzelczyk, provost and vice-president (academic). “This booster deadline extension reflects the new Health Canada information and is supported by our experts. It also responds to the call from our student leaders to provide more time for students in residence to be vaccinated.”
According to medical experts, while the current boosters provide solid protection against severe illness and hospitalization and reduce transmission, the campus community will have better overall protection throughout the year if more people receive one of the new bivalent vaccines when they become available.
On Aug. 22, Western announced vaccine and masking requirements for the fall to safeguard the health of the campus community and provide the best in-person learning experience for the coming school year. Measures include requiring students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and to have received one booster, and to be masked in instructional spaces.
Health officials anticipate the Moderna bivalent vaccine will be available early this fall with a new Pfizer bivalent vaccine expected to be available soon after.
Western’s deadline extension provides members of the campus community the option to get a booster shot of one of the new bivalent vaccines once they become available or getting boosted now with a current vaccine in order to be eligible again in 90 days for a bivalent vaccine.
Individuals who receive a booster now or the bivalent vaccine when it is available will be compliant with Western’s policy.
Most members of the campus community have already submitted their proof of vaccination for the primary series (two doses). Those who are new to Western and haven’t submitted proof of vaccination for their primary series (two doses) must do so as soon as possible.
Strzelczyk said Western will continue to review the science, consult with the campus community, and make decisions that support the continuity of the university’s in-person learning and working environment.
“We want to thank the campus community for their ongoing support and diligence as we adapt to the changing dynamics of the impact of COVID-19,” said Strzelczyk. “We also want to thank those who have already been boosted – you are protecting yourself and our community.”