By Aura Groomes
For the third academic year in a row, Mt. A students, faculty, and staff will have to live with the new restrictions and guidelines that the COVID-19 pandemic brings—this time, with mandatory vaccinations added to the mix.
On August 19, Mt. A released its new mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy on social media and the University website. According to the site, “students, faculty, and staff are required to be fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved vaccine… by Oct[ober] 1 at the latest.” Those who are exempt or unwilling to provide proof of vaccination will be subject to mandatory mask wearing and regular COVID-19 testing. People who choose to stay unvaccinated will not be prevented from studying or working at the University but must abide by any restrictions given by administration and/or Public Health.
The University’s decision to mandate vaccinations comes from numerous scientific studies that have established the effectiveness of the vaccines in Canada. The growing risk of infection and hospitalization worldwide has also increased concern. As reported by the CDC, vaccinations have been scientifically proven to reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of infection of COVID-19 and lessen the severity of the illness if contracted, even against variant strains of COVID-19.
The MASU released their response to the mandatory vaccination order on campus in support of the University’s decision, claiming that it “coincide[s] with the MASU’s priority of supporting health and wellness at Mount Allison University and more broadly.” The MASU has also extended their support by promoting a series of pop-up vaccination clinics in the months of August and September in Sackville, as well as sharing information about how to contact local pharmacies to receive a dose of the vaccine.
In a non-scientific self-report survey released by the MASU in collaboration with the University, 95.7% of the 328 respondents shared that they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 4.3% had received one dose of an approved vaccine with intent to receive the second dose in the near future. However, the non-scientific components of the survey, notably the small sample size, limits the ability for this to be considered an accurate reflection of the student body’s stance on vaccinations.
The vaccination rules at Mt. A are similar to those recently released by the Government of New Brunswick on September 15. After 63 cases were reported in the province on September 15, it was announced that as of September 21 at 11:59 p.m., “people will be required to show proof of vaccination when accessing certain events, services and businesses, and anyone entering New Brunswick must pre register their travel.” Public spaces that will require proof of vaccination include restaurants, bars, gyms and recreation facilities, movie theatres, visitors to long-term care homes, and indoor organized gatherings like weddings, funerals, and conferences. Proof of vaccination can include the original or copy of an immunization record, a MyHealthNB record, a proof of vaccination from another jurisdiction, or a certificate proving medical exemption.
If you are interested in getting your first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, please visit the Sackville Corner Drug Store’s website at https://thecornerdrugstore.medmeapp.ca/schedule, call the Guardian Pharmacy at (506) 536-2255, or drop in to the Guardian in-person to book an appointment.