Health guidance and vaccines

Looking for information about UBC’s plans for a return to campus? Visit the Campus Return Plan section.

Your questions answered

Below are a list of questions and answers to help you understand your role in helping prevent the spread of illness on our campuses and learning sites.


COVID-19 vaccines

Health guidance



COVID-19 vaccines

  • Where can I find information on BC’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout?

    Where can I find information on BC’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout?

    You can learn about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at https://immunizebc.ca/

  • Who can get vaccinated in Canada?

    Who can get vaccinated in Canada?

    All people in BC, including international students, can be vaccinated for free, regardless of length of stay or status, even if they will be here for only one dose (first or second). If a person has received a first dose of a two-dose vaccine regimen, while outside BC and then arrives in BC, they can bring their vaccination record from their first jurisdiction (with information about which vaccine and when it was administered) and request their second dose in BC. A doctor will determine the appropriate second vaccine. If a person brings the vaccine for their second dose with them into BC, a doctor will determine whether it can be administered in BC, depending on the vaccine and how it was transported. Everyone who is vaccinated in BC will receive a vaccination record, which they can present in BC or elsewhere to show what vaccine they received and when.

  • Will international students be able to get vaccinated in Canada?

    Will international students be able to get vaccinated in Canada?

    Yes, international students who haven’t been vaccinated upon arrival will also have access to the BC immunization program.

  • Will students, faculty and staff be expected to have had the vaccine in order to study or work on campus?

    Will students, faculty and staff be expected to have had the vaccine in order to study or work on campus?

    It is vital that members of our community support the provincial vaccine program and we encourage you to be vaccinated. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, UBC has worked in partnership with the public health agencies to ensure we are part of a coordinated response. As BC rolls out its provincial vaccine program, we are encouraging all members of our community to support it. The vaccines are the best way to protect against COVID-19. They do more than protect you, they also protect everyone around you. The more people in a community who are immunized against COVID-19, the harder it is for the virus to spread. You can learn more at https://immunizebc.ca/.

  • Are vaccines mandatory for students, faculty or staff to be on campus?

    Are vaccines mandatory for students, faculty or staff to be on campus?

    No. Vaccinations are being managed by the provincial health authorities and they are accelerating availability of vaccination appointments for both first and second doses. BC Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry and health authorities have determined that with the expected number of partially and fully vaccinated individuals, the health risk is low for the return to campus for the fall. All British Columbians ages 12+ will have had an opportunity to receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before July 1, 2021, and two doses by the end of August 2021. Canada and BC have some of the highest Dose 1 immunization levels in the world. 

    There are no vaccines in Canada that are mandatory. It has been recommended that post-secondary institutions do not introduce prevention measures that are different from those recommended by the Provincial Health Officer.  In addition, there are equity, privacy, human rights, employment law and operational practicality considerations that inform the university’s decisions regarding vaccines. While we strongly encourage members of the community to get the vaccine, in light of these considerations, UBC will not be making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for students, faculty or staff, nor will UBC ask members of the campus community to disclose their vaccination status.  We encourage all our UBC community to register for a vaccination. You can learn more at https://immunizebc.ca.

  • Will in-person classes still happen if some people don’t get vaccinated?

    Will in-person classes still happen if some people don’t get vaccinated?

    Yes. The BC Provincial Health Officer has provided guidance that UBC should be confident that a return to on-campus instruction can be undertaken safely and successfully. The university offered some in-person teaching throughout the 2020/21 academic year and we have strong protocols to ensure we can pursue academic activities safely. We will continue to follow the advice of the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC as we move forward in planning for the fall. With more in-person activity, we should also expect to continue to support our community by maintaining some of the public health and social measures that we have become familiar with and responsible for over this past year.

  • What do we know about the efficacy of current vaccines to protect against the different COVID-19 variants?

    What do we know about the efficacy of current vaccines to protect against the different COVID-19 variants?

    According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, the vaccines offered in BC are expected to protect people against the different COVID-19 variants circulating in BC, including the variants of concern. Getting vaccinated also decreases the risk of having severe COVID-19 disease or dying from it, prevents new variants from arising, and helps control the spread of COVID-19. Learn more.

  • Will it be safe to return to campus if many students, faculty and staff only have one dose of a vaccine?

    Will it be safe to return to campus if many students, faculty and staff only have one dose of a vaccine?

    We recognize that some students, faculty or staff may return to campus after only having one dose, or may be unable to get their second dose due to medical complications from their first dose. UBC is following all the public health guidelines and direction set by the appropriate health authorities. The public health authorities have determined that with the expected number of partially and fully vaccinated individuals the public health risk is low.

Health guidance

  • What precautions can I take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections?

    What precautions can I take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of infections?

    The advice from health agencies is:

    • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
    • If a sink is not available, 60-90% alcohol-based hand rubs (hand sanitizer) can be used to clean hands if they are not visibly soiled. If they are visibly soiled, you can use an alcohol-based disposable hand wipe to remove the dirt and then use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Do not touch your eyes/nose/mouth with unwashed hands.
    • When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue or the crease of your elbow, and then wash your hands.
    • Stay home when you are ill to avoid spreading the illness to others.
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick with an infection.
    • If you are ill, have symptoms of flu like a fever or cough, you should stay home.
  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    Information on the prevention, transmission, symptoms, and treatment of COVID-19 can be found at the BC Centre for Disease Control website under Symptoms.

  • What is self-isolation? Do I need to self-isolate?

    What is self-isolation? Do I need to self-isolate?

    When it comes to self-monitoring and self-isolating, we recommend following advice of local health authorities. Visit the Self-Isolation section on the BC Centre for Disease Control website for the most up to date information on this subject.

  • Should I get tested for COVID-19?

    Should I get tested for COVID-19?

    The BC Ministry of Health has developed a self-assessment tool, to help determine whether further assessment or testing for COVID-19 is recommended.

  • What is UBC doing to minimize the risk of infection?

    What is UBC doing to minimize the risk of infection?

    UBC has senior-level committees working to develop plans and responses to the evolving situation. We regularly consult with the BC Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health on how to detect and mitigate any potential cases on our campuses. We have appropriate measures in place, in the event that we are presented with someone displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

    To lower the risk from our campus environment:

    • Routine cleaning is scheduled daily and follows industry cleaning standards laid out by the Association for Higher Education Facilities Officers (APPA), which are a blended approach designed to manage risk. Our cleaning standards comply with APPA’s best practices.
    • We have posted information to remind people of how to reduce the spread of infections and continue to monitor and refill our current hand sanitizer stations located in the main entrances.
    • We encourage campus users to visit https://srs.ubc.ca/covid-19/health-safety-covid-19/prevention/

    The university is also working hard to ensure that students, faculty and staff receive reliable and up-to-date information on preventive measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

  • What is UBC’s policy on non-medical masks?

    What is UBC’s policy on non-medical masks?

    As part of UBC’s commitment to the health and safety of our community, and the responsibility we all share in preventing the potential for COVID-19, students, faculty, staff and visitors are required to follow UBC’s COVID-19 Campus Rules when on our campuses. These rules include the requirement to wear non-medical masks in common indoor spaces. For more information on the use of non-medical masks, you can also visit the Safety and Risk Services website.

  • Are there exceptions to UBC’s mask policy?

    Are there exceptions to UBC’s mask policy?

    There are some exceptions to wearing masks inside buildings on UBC premises. For more information, please refer to the COVID-19 Campus Rules.

  • What should I do if someone I know shows symptoms of COVID-19?

    What should I do if someone I know shows symptoms of COVID-19?

    We recommend that you visit the BC Centre for Disease Control website for the most up to date information about what to do if you’re sick. The site includes a link to the BC COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool that you can use to help determine if you need further assessment or testing.

  • What is the notification process for confirmed cases of COVID-19?

    What is the notification process for confirmed cases of COVID-19?

    Notification of COVID-19 cases, and potential exposures within our community, is managed by public health authorities, not by UBC. If UBC is asked by public health authorities to notify our community members of a confirmed case, we will do so by distributing material prepared by those public health authorities. Only those identified through contact tracing as “needing to know” will have access to this information. You can learn more about the contact tracing process here