Important COVID-19 Update

September 06, 2022 4:00 PM

Since announcing our fall health and safety measures on August 22, new information has prompted us to shift the deadline in our policy to get a booster shot.  

What’s new?

On September 1, Health Canada formally approved Moderna’s updated COVID-19 bivalent vaccine that now targets the Omicron variant. At this time, we don’t know exactly when this vaccine will be offered in our region, but anticipate it will be early this fall. It’s also likely that a new bivalent vaccine from Pfizer will be available soon after. 

We have consulted again with medical experts learning that, while the current boosters provide solid protection against severe illness and hospitalization and reduce transmission, our campus community will have better overall protection throughout the year if more people receive one of the new bivalent vaccines when they become available.  

How we’re responding

Western is extending the deadline for submitting proof of vaccination for a booster dose to January 9, 2023. Members of our community will have 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 have received a booster – thanks for protecting yourself and our community. Most members of the campus community have already submitted their proof of vaccination for the primary series (two doses). If you are new to Western and haven’t submitted proof of vaccination for your primary series (two doses), you must do so as soon as possible.  

As originally announced on August 22, Western will require and provide medical grade (ASTM level 3) masks in instructional spaces and is committed to reviewing the masking requirement after Thanksgiving. 

What’s behind our policy? 

Western has made and will continue to make decisions based on the best available data, science and advice from public health and medical experts. 

This deadline extension reflects the new Health Canada information and is supported by further consultation including with experts in the areas of infectious disease, epidemiology, family medicine and more. It also responds to the call from our student leaders to provide more time for students in residence to be vaccinated.

Western is a large residential university with more than 38,000 students on our main campus this year, of whom 6,400 are first-year students, with most living in residence. Thousands of faculty and staff are on campus prioritizing in-person learning and research, with a steadfast commitment to the health and safety of all community members.

We provide an exceptional on-campus experience for our students – it’s core to who we are as an institution. By ensuring our community is vaccinated and masked in instructional spaces, we feel we are doing everything we can to preserve in-person learning this coming year. 

We will continue to review the science, consult with our community, and make decisions that support the continuity of our in-person learning and working environment. Please visit our FAQs for more information and specific FAQs for our international community.  

Thank you for your ongoing support and diligence as we adapt to the changing dynamics of the impact of COVID-19.