U of T implements vaccine mandate for residence students
The university has announced that for the 2022-2023 academic year, all residence students will be required to have received two Health Canada approved vaccines and one booster.

On July 28, 2022, the University of Toronto posted a Covid-19 planning update stating that despite the province no longer requiring vaccine accreditation, students living on residence will be “required to have a primary series of a Covid-19 vaccine and at least one booster dose.” On all three campuses, the requirements must be met prior to moving into any residence and will remain in effect for the entire 2022-2023 academic year. 

U of T has advised local public health units of the policy, who have responded positively, indicating that “having a high vaccination rate in communal-living settings benefits all those living there.” Although approved exemptions are an option, the vaccine remains a requirement for those on residence.

In addition, the update, posted by U of T Vice President & Provost, Cheryl Regehr, and Vice-President, People Strategy, Equity & Culture, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, reminded all students and staff to keep their vaccinations up-to-date in case of a short notice reinstatement of vaccination policy due to changes in public health conditions. Furthermore, although the mask-mandate has been lifted, the use of masks is encouraged—especially in high-traffic environments where social distancing cannot be maintained. 

The Medium interviewed three students who have just moved into the University of Toronto Mississauga’s on-campus residence. 

Saurabh Nair, a first-year Computer Science student is content with the implementation of the mandate, noting that the vaccine requirement “not only increases your safety, but the safety of others as well,” thus deeming the policy a “good decision.” 

As an international student, Nair has received a fourth Health Canada approved dose. But Nair is aware of other students coming from abroad who have yet to meet the vaccination requirement due to the lack of access to vaccines in their country. 

International students who have received a non-Health Canada approved vaccine, regardless of the number of doses, will have to register with Toronto or Peel Public Health in order to meet the requisite—a service which is free for everyone in Ontario. However, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization notes that students receiving unapproved vaccines should keep in mind that an interval of “at least 28 days should be observed between receipt of the last vaccine and the administration of a Health Canada approved Covid-19 vaccine.” While provisions have been made by the university, numerous obstacles remain for international learners. 

“With my science and biology background I know the benefits of [being vaccinated],” states a fourth-year biology specialist, who wishes to remain anonymous. However, when the student heard that U of T will be reinstating the regulation, they were surprised since it is no longer enforced by the provincial government. On March 14, 2022, the Ontario government lifted the last of the vaccine mandates—no longer requiring proof of vaccination in hospitals, long-term care homes, schools, and child-care settings. Although the student does not have a problem with the university-wide mandate, they do see how that might not be the case for others. 

Universities across the province have not come to a unanimous policy regarding vaccination requirements. Western University announced on August 22, 2022—only two weeks before the start of classes—that they will continue to require all students, faculty, and staff to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, including one booster. They have also placed a masking mandate in classrooms and seminar rooms. By contrast, McMaster University no longer requires proof of vaccination nor masks worn in classrooms. Neighbouring institution, Toronto Metropolitan University, has suspended their vaccination and masking policy since May 1, 2022. 

Second-year statistics and geographic information systems student, Yuling Wang, believes that “[U of T] should give students a choice whether they have a booster or not.” Wang notes that her booster caused an adverse reaction and fevers. Hence, she thinks the solution would be to have the choice. In addition, Wang states that the vaccination requirements do not make her feel safer as she knows of fellow students who have received up to four doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and still caught the virus. 

Students across the university feel differently about the policy, especially considering the lack of provincial regulations. Nonetheless, U of T believes that the policy in its high-traffic living spaces will benefit the community. 

Editor-in-Chief (Volume 48 & 49) | editor@themedium.ca — Liz is completing a double major in Chemistry and Art History. She previously served as Features Editor for Volume 47, and Editor-in-Chief for Volume 48. Liz is extremely excited to have spent her time as an undergrad at The Medium, and can’t wait to inspire others and be inspired in her final year at UTM. When she’s not studying, working, writing, or editing countless articles, you can find her singing Motown hits at her piano, going on long walks by the lake, or listening to music. You can connect with Liz on her websiteInstagram, or LinkedIn.


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