In Canada, in-person learning has been prioritized in all jurisdictions. Requiring proof of vaccination in schools has been a topic of discussion among policy makers and public health experts, and has helped in developing a vaccination policy for teachers and support staff, school children, children attending extra-curricular activities, as well as parents of children attending school.
In Canada, Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick have policies that require proof of vaccination within school settings, while Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have each required that teachers and support staff show proof of vaccination within K-12 schools. New Brunswick also requires full vaccination for eligible children to take part in extracurricular activities.
Within Canada, in a school setting, the COVID-19 proof of vaccination mandates have been seen primarily within the university setting. The universities have found the vast majority of students are now vaccinated and the rate of vaccination on campus is much higher than the rate of vaccination within the general public within each province.
The rationale behind recommending proof of vaccination policies in school settings is to protect those not able to be vaccinated and by surrounding them with vaccinated individuals. A proof of vaccination policy should be implemented along with a suite of other public health orders, to decrease transmission of COVID-19. The policy may not be necessary in all jurisdictions; however, it may be important to implement in jurisdictions with low vaccination uptake and high COVID-19 incidence rates.
At the federal level:
- Fund a network of collaborating researchers with the goal of having data collection, research, and evaluation of the different jurisdictional vaccination mandate policies.
At the provincial and territorial levels:
- Mandate proof of full vaccination among teachers, support staff and students in all school and university settings where vaccine uptake is low and COVID-19 incidence is high. Establish a medical exemption program and ensure the availability of on-site vaccination clinics.
- Provide detailed and up-to-date public reporting of vaccination rates, testing data and COVID-19 case data.
At the local and regional levels:
- School divisions: Mandate proof of full vaccination among teachers, support staff and volunteers. Work with the local health authority to establish a clear and transparent medical exemption program; Offer on-site vaccination clinics; Work with the health authority to promote immunization, and educate parents and students on the concept of herd immunity and the importance of high vaccine uptake in school, such as through the distribution of fact sheets.
- Universities: Mandate proof of full vaccination among all faculty, staff, and students on campus; Establish a clear and transparent medical exemption program and work with the health authority to offer on-site vaccination clinics.