PEI

Vaccines now mandatory at Holland College and UPEI

In a couple of days, students at Holland College who aren't vaccinated won't even be able to open doors at the school because their key cards will be deactivated. 

'If you're not vaccinated fully you can't be on our campus'

In a couple of days, Holland College will not allow most unvaccinated students and staff inside the school. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Students and staff at Holland College and UPEI are now required to be vaccinated. 

In a couple of days, students at Holland College who aren't vaccinated won't even be able to open doors at the school because their key cards will be deactivated. 

"They will be asked to leave the college, if they're an employee they'll be placed on a leave without pay, if they're a student they'll be de-registered. If you're not vaccinated fully you can't be on our campus," Holland College president Sandy MacDonald said. 

About 10 staff and 28 students are not vaccinated at the school, of the near 3,000 plus people on campus, MacDonald said. 

As well, MacDonald added, "we've had a couple of medical exemptions that we feel have merit."

Holland College's Sandy MacDonald says its difficult to tell people they can't be at the school because they're unvaccinated. (Laura Meader/CBC )

UPEI said 200 people have yet to provide proof of vaccination. It is also preparing to take disciplinary action, but doesn't have an exact date when people won't be allowed on campus. 

"UPEI is pleased with the response rates and vaccination rates," the university wrote in an email to CBC News. 

As of last Friday, the school said out of 6,400 people on campus, 96 per cent of faculty and 92 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated. When it comes to students, 84 per cent are fully vaccinated with six per cent partially vaccinated. Those numbers include remote learners who might not be on P.E.I. 

'I'm definitely a fan of it'

Many students say they feel protected by the policy. 

"I'm definitely a fan of it," said early childhood education student Kaleigh McPhee. "I think the vaccine is necessary for us to get back to any sort of normal that we can have, and I don't think it's something you should be scared of." 

Journalism and communications student Grant Harrison agrees. 

Grant Harrison is from Kansas in the United States. He says vaccines are not as popular down there, but he's in favour of Holland College's vaccine mandate. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"It's a risk having unvaccinated students coming around, because at the cafeteria we're not wearing masks, in the gym we're not wearing masks," he said.

Tatian Ibanez came to study at the college from Colombia. She had to prove her vaccination status before getting in the country. 

"My whole family was in favour of the vaccines so I [said] 'OK let's do it.'" 

MacDonald said it's hard to turn people away, but even if people are turned away now they would be welcomed back if they decide to get vaccinated.

"It is difficult when you're saying to someone 'you can't be here because you're not vaccinated," MacDonald said.

With files from Laura Meader

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