Policy Statement on COVID-19 Vaccination for High-Risk Areas on Campuses

04 October, 2021

Since the early signs of the unfolding of the COVID-19 pandemic, The University of the West Indies (The UWI)  has centred the safety of the community that it serves within its overall response policy and strategy.

Aligned with this commitment, the Executive Management Team (EMT) convened a special meeting on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, to discuss the road map for an official university-wide COVID-19 vaccination policy.

This policy will be founded upon our regional university’s duty of care, health and safety, noting that The UWI was the first institution in the region to mobilise a team of experts through the formulation of The UWI COVID-19 Task Force. 

On the basis of risk assessment and analysis, the Vice-Chancellor, acting on behalf of the University Finance & General Purposes Committee (F&GPC) approved the development of a policy statement concerning mandatory vaccination for access to high risk areas. In this application, mandatory vaccination is defined as: the imposition of measures leading towards preference for persons who elect to be vaccinated.

In this first phase, the University will require mandatory vaccination for access to specific on-campus areas deemed to be ‘high-risk’. This covers halls of residence and laboratories, as well as all medical students, students attending labs, and other students working in clinical settings who must interface with each other and patients, as well as any academic, administrative, or support staff who are required to interface with those students.

The policy statement is part of a continuous mitigation strategy that has, to date, included public education on COVID-19 and outreach to promote vaccine trust and confidence; the offer and promotion of vaccines on/through its campuses; and observation of all relevant national protocols regarding public safety measures in its operating jurisdictions.

Undergirding this policy statement is the principle of preserving a safe on-campus (work, learning) environment for staff and students, grounded in the adoption of sound science in application. In that regard, The UWI categorically remains an advocate of COVID-19 vaccination as a reliable and effective measure to mitigate against the spread of the virus. At the same time, the University also respects the positions of the vaccine-hesitant, those opposed to vaccination, and those who for medical, religious or other prevailing circumstances reserve their right not to access vaccinations, right now.

The development of a fulsome COVID-19 vaccination policy will include consultation with relevant stakeholders, which will be followed by a comprehensive operational plan for each campus, to be rolled out by the end of December 2021.