Dear Members of the McMaster community,
Throughout the pandemic we have placed the health and safety of everyone at McMaster at the forefront of our planning. The Delta variant, rising infection rates in the broader community, and the beginning of term have informed the decision by the President and Vice-Presidents to introduce a mandatory COVID vaccination policy for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors attending a McMaster campus or facility.
The new policy will require that anyone accessing campus or a university facility in person upload proof that they are fully vaccinated, or that they have received an exemption from the university for a validated human rights ground. Such grounds include medical conditions which would prevent a person from receiving COVID vaccinations. The university will work with those who receive an exemption to ensure they are connected with the appropriate resources to develop a reasonable and appropriate accommodation plan and that the university can put in place appropriate alternative health and safety measures. Those who work or have placements in hospitals and health facilities are required to follow McMaster’s policy but must also follow any requirements of those organizations.
Mandatory vaccines will be required as of September 7. However, we recognize that not everyone will be able to reach full vaccination status by that first day of the fall term and that some time will be needed to help those requesting an accommodation for human rights grounds. Between September 7 and October 18, those attending university locations or placements in hospitals and health facilities who are not yet fully vaccinated, or who have not yet received an exemption for a validated human rights ground, will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID test result twice a week. This testing protocol will be in place until October 18 when vaccines or an approved exemption will be needed to attend a McMaster campus or facility.
To help make this transition as smooth as possible, a McMaster system is being developed to allow for the uploading and validation of proof of vaccination or testing. Health information will be secure and will be kept confidentially within the university with very limited access. Aggregate data will be used to provide information on overall trends.
Student vaccinations will be available through the Student Wellness Centre and other vaccine options for campus are also being organized. Testing facilities will also be available for those who need to make use of them. Additional information will be shared as soon as it is available.
Supports and assistance are available to everyone in the McMaster community and we encourage you to reach out with questions or for any help you may need. Human Resources Services and Student Accessibility Services will assist with accommodation questions, concerns and requests. Mental health supports are available for students and employees and additional assistance can be found through the Student Wellness Centre and the Employee Assistance Plan. The Equity and Inclusion Office also offers support for any member of the McMaster community.
Additional details will be included in the policy which will be available to the community when it is complete. An FAQ has also been developed to provide additional information.
We know that vaccinations combined with public health measures like physical distancing, wearing masks, washing your hands and staying home if you don’t feel well are the best defences against COVID. Our recent surveys showed 94% of students and 93% of faculty and staff who responded said that they will be vaccinated by the beginning of term. These additional measures support what our community is telling us is a strong commitment to vaccination.
Additional information will be shared with the community when it is available, and we encourage you to stay informed about COVID and the fall term through the Back to Mac website.
Thank you for your ongoing diligence as we work to support our community through a safe return to campus.
President and Vice-Chancellor
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)