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Carrots & Sticks, Jabs & Shots

Good morning, whether you’re celebrating Chess, the Moon, Space Exploration or just lollipops today!

Yesterday my weekly “Pandemic Précis” ran a little overlong (without even revisiting my prior reports about the dire situation in Indonesia, Southeast Asia and South America). In a nutshell, the Delta variant is ravaging unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated populations around the world (including in vaccine-rich countries like the US, UK, and Israel) like “Wildfire in Dry Timber.”

Health officials increasingly agree that we need to aim for 90% full vaccination to avoid a 4th wave of the pandemic here in Canada by late September. And as of now, just 30% of traditional-aged CdnPSE students (aged 18-29) are fully vaxxed.

Which makes the question of mandatory vaccine policies on campus more than merely academic…

 

 

Vaccine Mandates

I’ve been tracking campus vaccine mandates since late March (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies), and so far 586 US campuses have made COVID19 vaccination mandatory for students (and sometimes staff) on campus this Fall. (Rhode Island recently became the first state in which all colleges and universities are requiring a COVID19 vaccine.)

I’ve already reported on 10 CdnPSEs who have followed suit, all in Ontario: Western, Fanshawe, Trent, uToronto, Ryerson, Seneca, Durham College, Ontario Tech, York U, and Fleming College. In the past week, more have joined them in Ontario and Nova Scotia, and the topic continues to be discussed across the country…

 

uOttawa announced last week that vaccination will be mandatory for students living in campus residence this fall. Domestic students will be required to show proof of vaccination with a Health Canada approved vaccine; international students can qualify with a dose of any WHO-approved vaccine. Students who have received only 1 dose must obtain their second dose as soon as possible. (Carleton U and Algonquin College, also in Ottawa, encourage but do not currently require vaccination.)  CBC

 

Cape Breton U announced Jul 12 that students living in residence this fall will need to be fully vaccinated. Unlike most Ontario institutions, CBU students in residence must have received their first dose at least 14 days prior to arrival, and get their second dose as soon as possible. So far, CBU is the only NS institution to mandate vaccinations.  CBC  |  CBU

 

Seneca College remains the only CdnPSE to make vaccines mandatory, not only to live in student residence, but for staff or students to return to campus at all. “It was just the right thing to do to continue to protect the health and safety of our community,” explains president David Agnew. He reports no major pushback from within the college community, just objections from antivaxxers in the US.  National Post

 

“Would they merely ‘encourage’ their students to install smoke alarms in their residences?” Amir Attaran, Health Law Prof, uOttawa

 

 

Ontario’s Universities and the Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) issued a joint statement Friday to “encourage all faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated,” since “high vaccination rates play a critical role in bringing student life back to our campuses.” Universities will “continue to work with public health units and the provincial government to prioritize the health and safety of students” this Fall. (But, since member institutions have adopted contradictory positions on vaccine mandates, that is as close to a consensus as they can get.)  Ontario’s Universities

 

Algoma U and Sault College both say they are not mandating vaccinations for the Fall, but Algoma “highly” recommends that students planning to live in residence or compete in varsity athletics get vaccinated. “So far” Sault College has “nothing new to report” regarding a new vaccine policy.  Sault Star

 

Canadore College and Nipissing U both say they have not yet made a final decision about a vaccine mandate for the Fall. Nipissing is “strongly encouraging” vaccinations for students coming to live in residence. Canadore is waiting on a “coordinated approach” from Ontario colleges collectively. “We hope it’s a non-issue prior to classes and we’re going to take a few weeks to mid-July to continue to monitor things closely.”  CTV  |  North Bay Nugget

 

Queen’s U and St Lawrence College both say they have opted not to make vaccines mandatory this Fall. Queen’s reports that 97% of students who applied for residence indicated they will either arrive fully vaccinated, or “take the steps to become so.” SLC is encouraging vaccination, but not requiring it “at this stage.”  Global

 

St Clair College has not mandated vaccinations, but is “working with local public health officials and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on the matter.” Lambton College has not yet made a decision, but is consulting with Lambton Public Health and the Ministry, according to a statement Friday.  London Free Press

 

uToronto has emphasized to students that COVID19 vaccinations will not be required this fall to return to campus for in-person classes, although they will be mandatory for students living in residence. However, “requirements and regulations will continue to change with the fast-paced nature of the pandemic as the university follows public health guidelines.”  The Varsity

 

Alberta PSEs say they will not follow Seneca’s lead and make vaccines mandatory. uCalgary says it “supports vaccination” but will not make it a requirement for students. Mount Royal U says likewise, at least for now. “We continue to look at and have conversations even with our colleagues in the PSE sector and Alberta Health Services about where there might be opportunity to bring vaccines onto campuses in a bigger way.” SAIT is “encouraging” vaccinations but not requiring it.  CTV

 

“Perhaps there is hope that carrots are going to win out. But it’s crunch time, and I think we need to think more seriously about sticks.”Timothy Caulfield, CRC in Health Law & Policy, uAlberta

 

 

Manitoba PSEs have reiterated that they encourage vaccination, but will not be requiring shots this fall, citing legal and privacy concerns. These include uManitoba, uWinnipeg, U Saint-Boniface, UC of the North, Brandon U, Assiniboine CC, and Red River College. All plan to deliver programs through blended and remote delivery.  CBC

 

Quebec health minister Christian Dubé says it’s unlikely the province would enforce a mandatory vaccine directive on students, since the voluntary approach seems to be working “at this time.” McGill U has indicated it will take its lead from the province: “Unless the Quebec government mandates vaccination, we cannot, at this time, legally require proof of vaccination from incoming residence students.” Concordia plans to reopen its residences this year, but only at half-capacity with single-room occupancy.  CTV

 

St Francis Xavier U (NS) has launched a “More2Gether” campaign to encourage vaccinations, although they will not be required of staff or students. “The more people in our communities who are vaccinated, the more quickly we can return to normal life with fewer restrictions.” The campaign’s StFX-specific hashtag is, of course, “#XOutCOVID”.  StFX

 

 

Vaccine Passports

Even though the majority of the public supports the idea of COVID19 vaccine passports for international travellers, the idea of requiring proof of vaccination for domestic activities – from attending concerts and theatre performances to entering bars, restaurants, night clubs or school classrooms – generates political and ideological polarization…

 

“Yes” in Manitoba

Manitoba has been issuing proof-of-immunization cards to residents since June, 2 weeks after their second shot of COVID19 vaccine – although premier Brian Pallister refuses to say which 2 of his MLAs are not yet vaccinated. (As NDP leader Wab Kinew asks, “If the government is asking Manitobans, who are able, to get double-vaccinated if they want to fully participate in our society, is that going to be the same standard for MLAs?”) Manitobans with the card can skip interprovincial quarantines and visit hospitals and long-term care homes.  Globe & Mail

 

“Oui” in Quebec

Quebec has announced it will introduce vaccine passports in September for anyone wanting to visit non-essential businesses such as bars and gyms, in regions with COVID19 outbreaks. (Although if there are no outbreaks, the passports will never be used.) Businesses welcome the move as an alternative to lockdowns, but worry it will generate friction with clientele.  Globe & Mail

 

“Probably Not” in BC

BC Premier John Horgan and PHO Bonnie Henry have said they aren’t supportive of vaccine passports to access services.  Globe & Mail

 

Alberta Says “No Way”

Not surprisingly, Alberta’s conservative premier Jason Kenney has made it clear in no uncertain terms that his government will never “facilitate or accept” vaccine passports, based on privacy concerns. Alberta deliberately amended its Public Health Act to “remove a 100-year-old power allowing the government to force people to be inoculated.” Kenney promises to oppose any attempt by the federal government to introduce such a program. Globe & Mail

 

Not in Ford Nation

Ontario’s conservative premier Doug Ford has likewise declared the province will not make vaccination mandatory for any industry, nor develop a vaccine passport system. “We aren’t going to have a split society.” However, Ontarians have been receiving receipts with their first and second doses, electronically or on paper, which could be presented if certain businesses request it. Some smaller gyms have announced that anyone entering their facilities will need to be fully vaxxed.  Globe & Mail

 

“We aren’t doing it, simple as that. We aren’t going to have a split society.”Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

 

 

 

A Jab about Jabs

I suspect my opinion has been readily apparent, over the past 4 months, that CdnPSEs would be well advised to either mandate COVID19 vaccines on campus this Fall, or to brace themselves for another pivot to emergency remote learning, should the Delta variant (or something worse) cause another pandemic surge in October. If you’re tired of my sermonizing, allow me to present some other voices instead…

 

Mandatory for IntlEd

Advocates for hard-hit international higher ed have been outspoken since at least May about the need to make COVID19 vaccines mandatory, in order to rescue the “decimated” sector. “Operating any international programs with a mix of vaccination states would require two different safety protocols, housing and social formats. We cannot ask vaccinated participants to share a bedroom, apartment, social event with a group of unvaccinated students.”  PIE News

 

“It is tempting to wait, watch and follow, but the time is now to act, and move together to take a position so others can as well, so we can get our students back abroad as soon as possible.”Emily Merson, Executive Director, AIFS Abroad

 

 

Time’s Up for Students

As uGuelph molecular geneticist Manish Raizada points out, students have to get their first dose now if they hope to get a second dose 3-4 weeks later, and wait at least 2 more weeks for full immune protection, before coming to campus in early September. With vaccination rates among the traditional PSE student cohort plateauing at about 64% in Canada, we have a long way to go to achieve the 90% that some epidemiologists say would be required to protect a campus community from further outbreaks. And the massive street party in Kingston last week demonstrates that unsanctioned off-campus social activities still pose a considerable threat to unvaccinated students. Raizada is encouraging all PSEs to make vaccinations mandatory now, so that students have time to react.  Toronto Star

 

UWO Prof Concerned

Western U biology prof Beth McDougall-Shackleton is publicly urging the University to follow Seneca College’s example, and make vaccination mandatory for all staff and students attending campus in person. (Western declared in May that vaccines would be mandatory only for students living in residence this Fall.) McDougall-Shackleton believes the right for students and staff to work in a safe environment trumps the right of those who refuse to get vaccinated. The Faculty Association says it cannot comment.   CBC

 

“The right of students to learn in a safe environment and faculty to work in a safe environment, that is a more fundamental right than the perceived right of a vocal minority to disregard evidence-based precautions.”Beth McDougall-Shackleton, Biology Prof, Western U

 

CdnPSE Needs a Dose of Courage

The editorial board at the Globe & Mail observes that almost 600 US campuses (including Harvard, Yale, and the entire uCalifornia system) have made COVID19 vaccination mandatory on campus this Fall, and that “Canada’s institutions of learning should have the courage to do likewise.” (With certain medical or religious exceptions, of course.) “In the long progress of liberal ideas about freedom and liberty, we find no evidence of a human right to make others sick, against their will.”  Globe & Mail

 

I mean, after all, plenty of LESS intellectual sectors have already adopted a pro-science position on vaccinations…

 

Toronto Strip Clubs announced last week that their staff have been vaccinated, and (largely at staff request) patrons will be required to have at least one dose (on an honour system). “We prefer to have a vaccine passport, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist at this time. So we’re just going to take whatever measures we can to ensure the safety of our dancers, our staff and our patrons, and at the same time we’re going to do anything and everything possible — even above what the government asks us to do.”  Global

 

Cruise Lines are offering vaccinated passengers wristbands that provide unfettered access to shows, restaurants and bars on board, while those who are unvaccinated are “second-class citizens” who will face extra expenses, testing, and plenty of off-limits areas and times. “Let’s be honest – NO cruise line wants unvaccinated adults on their ships.”  Toronto Sun

 

 

 

#ICYMI

Every CdnPSE has launched awareness and public information efforts to encourage vaccination, but a select few rise to the status of “must-see.” Here’s one of the latest…

 

Let’s KO COVID!

uWindsor and its Students’ Alliance are using an energetic beat and boxing metaphors to encourage the campus community to “take a jab” and “KO COVID!” In this 5-min campaign vid, we’re told that “every shot counts,” and testimonials from president Robert Gordon and others remind us that “the greatest side effect of getting the jab is going to concerts, seeing your friends, and coming back to class.” From the opening campaign logo, to some moving personal stories, to the closing bloopers, the video is very well put together if you have 5 minutes to spare. (Or just watch this 30-sec spot, to get the sense of it!)  YouTube

 

 

As always, thanks for reading!

Please do drop me a line if you spot something interesting, thought-provoking or cool happening on your campus, or elsewhere in the world.

Stay safe and be well,

Ken

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