Tauranga uni campus to have vaccine mandate
Students accessing University of Waikato campuses and sites will have to be vaccinated by February 14 next year.
The compulsory vaccination status, which will impact the Tauranga campus on Durham Street, also applies to staff and contractors and has been made after a majority of those surveyed indicated a mandate should be put in place.
University of Waikato vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley says the consultation period with the University’s community of staff, the staff and student unions, students in the Halls of Residents and contractors was valuable.
“I am extremely proud of the way the University, its staff and students have responded to the significant disruptions of the past two years and this decision is something the vast majority of our people support,” says Neil.
“This is the right way for us to move forward from having to constantly and quickly adapt to lockdowns and changing circumstances.”
The University sent a survey about vaccination to University of Waikato staff, student unions, student residents and contractors.
Of those surveyed, 82.8 per cent believed vaccines should be mandatory for students entering campus with 17.2 per cent disagreeing. That disapproval rate was lower for students living in University accommodation, with 87.7 per cent believing it was the right move.
The approval rate for staff to require vaccinations to enter campuses was 86.2 per cent and for contractors, 88.4 per cent.
The requirement will apply from 14 February 2022, with the University stating this allows for a period of adjustment to implement the infrastructure and processes needed to put it into practice whilst allowing those who are hesitant about receiving the vaccine time to seek further information or an official exemption, or to await the availability of the AstraZeneca vaccine or another Ministry of Health approved alternative.
The Government has indicated it will not be developing further legislation around Covid-19 vaccination in the tertiary sector beyond what is already required under the ‘red’ setting of the new Covid-19 Protection Framework, which stipulates tertiary institutions can only operate in face-to-face settings with the use of vaccine passes.
Vice-chancellor Neil says this leaves each university to make its own decisions based on the context of the environment it operates in.
He says the prospect of potentially moving in and out of the red setting and the associated costs and logistics of being on campus intermittently are strong arguments for applying the requirements of the red setting across the board.
“Requiring vaccination regardless of the setting we are at provides certainty that we can safely remain open as a place of work and study no matter what level of the framework we are at, subject to any localised lockdowns under the Covid-19 Protection Framework, and ensures a safe environment for our whole University community, in particular those who are unable to be vaccinated,” says Neil.
“We have staff and students with children under the age of 12 at home, who have contact with lots of different people through their study or their jobs away from study, or who are responsible or care for people who are at high risk.”
In tandem with consulting with staff and students, the University carried out an extensive health and safety risk assessment, which identified that the nature of the activities undertaken on campus put the University at a higher level of overall risk of spreading Covid-19.
“We have a legal and ethical responsibility to keep our staff, students and wider community safe when they are on campus,” says Neil.
“For every person who told us they may not feel safe receiving the vaccine, many more told us they’d feel safer on campus knowing everyone around them is vaccinated.”