Universities uncertain of using vaccination passports to resume in-person learning

By Samsara Rainville and CityNews Staff

MONTREAL (CityNews) – Some Canadian universities, like Concordia, say they will follow public health guidelines when it comes to requiring proof of vaccination for their students to return to on-campus learning.

As Quebec opens up vaccination distribution to those 18 and older as of May 14, the province is rolling out its own form of vaccination passports by sending out QR codes as vaccination verification to those who have received their jab.

Some experts worry not requiring a vaccine passport could lead to an uptick in cases come September.

“Proof of vaccination is an extra belt in addition to suspenders to try and keep both students and faculty safe,” said Dr. Donald Cuong Vinh, Infectious Disease Specialist at MUHC.

“I’m a little bit perplexed that some universities don’t want to consider proof of vaccination. I can understand that there are sort of libertarian perspectives as to how that is, there may be some logistical perspectives on how to do that, but at the end of the day if they’re academics and they’re in universities, I’m sure they’re smart enough to figure out a plan on how to get their learning back on site safely.”

CityNews contacted several universities across Canada to see if they would be implementing a vaccine passport, and the University of British Columbia said in a statement that “all adult students will be eligible to receive the vaccine, including international students. The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory. There are no vaccines in Canada that are mandatory.”

The University of Toronto also responded saying: “the approach to vaccination is a matter all post-secondary institutions in Ontario are considering at this time. We are working closely with the guidance of the province when it comes to health and safety requirements in coming to any decisions.”

Across the board, dozens of Universities and Colleges like Rutgers, Brown, and Cornell have opted to require proof of vaccination, but the Canadian Civil Liberties Association question the equity around it, saying it will target the same groups that have been most affected by the pandemic, immigrants and racialized communities.

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