Professor Peter Blanck Pens OpEd on Vaccines and Universities' Duty of Care
Uni students have had to be vaccinated against other diseases—COVID-19 is no different
(The Conversation | Aug. 22, 2021) Should universities require students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before attending campus once vaccines are readily available in Australia?
Professor Iain Martin, vice-chancellor of Deakin University and former dean of the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland, says yes.
Campus life is filled with potential super-spreader events. Students attend lectures, seminars, social events and industry functions.
Student immunisation and screening requirements existed for certain courses before the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccinations are now required for students in certain circumstances. They include those who enter premises that have government-driven mandatory vaccination requirements, such as restricted vulnerable facilities. Examples include hospitals, residential aged care, disability accommodation services and correctional centres.
Until now, Australian universities have not sought to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all students. However, Martin says:
“I am unequivocally of the view that we have a duty to be vaccinated unless there is an overwhelming health reason why an individual cannot take any of the available vaccines.”
In response, National Union of Students president Zoe Ranganathan accepted the importance of vaccinations, but called for a less “punitive” approach.
In Canada, some have suggested mandatory vaccinations should apply only to students on campus. Those who refuse to get vaccinated “should be offered online alternatives” ...