Health guidance and vaccines

UBC requires COVID-19 rapid testing for all students, faculty and staff, with exemptions provided for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 
Find out more about the required COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program.

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.


On this page:

COVID-19 vaccines

Rapid Testing Program

Health guidance

Illustration of a medical professional holding clipboard in one hand and balancing a hovering exclamation point in the other.

COVID-19 vaccines

  • Where can I find information about BC’s provincial vaccination program?

    Where can I find information about BC’s provincial vaccination program?

    You can learn more about BC’s provincial vaccination program 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.

  • 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. However, UBC requires regular COVID-19 rapid testing for all students, faculty and staff when working or studying on one of UBC’s campuses or at an off-campus facility controlled by UBC. Exemptions will be provided for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who are not exempt will be required to have regular COVID-19 rapid testing. Learn about UBC’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program.

    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 is not making COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for students, faculty or staff, nor will UBC ask members of the campus community to openly disclose their vaccination status.  We encourage all our UBC community to register for a vaccination. You can learn more at https://immunizebc.ca.

    COVID-19 vaccine clinics are also available at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan this fall. Find out more.

  • 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.

  • What is the BC Vaccine Card?

    What is the BC Vaccine Card?

    The BC provincial government has announced the introduction of the BC Vaccine Card by a new order from the provincial health officer, effective September 13, 2021. The order will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to access a range of activities, including indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor and patio dining in restaurants, fitness centres, casinos and indoor organized events, such as conferences and weddings.

    You can read the full announcement here

    If you were vaccinated in another province or country, no matter what vaccine you received, you may upload your information in order to obtain your BC Vaccine Card. If you need a BC Personal Health Number to upload your information, call a BC Services agent at: 1-888-268-4319 then upload at https://immunizationrecord.gov.bc.ca

  • Will I be required to have the BC Vaccine Card to take part in activities on campus?

    Will I be required to have the BC Vaccine Card to take part in activities on campus?

    The BC Vaccine Card will apply to post-secondary campuses. It will require proof of vaccination for the activities listed above, as well as participating in activities such as varsity and intramural sports and student clubs.

  • Will I need the BC Vaccine Card if I am in student housing?

    Will I need the BC Vaccine Card if I am in student housing?

    Student housing will be part of the public health order. The requirement for proof of vaccination in student housing will come into effect on September 7, 2021. Further guidance will be developed in consultation with public health, including which types of student housing facilities will be included. We also recognize that we need to allow for a transition period beyond September 7, for those students who are arriving from outside BC and Canada, to give them an opportunity to access vaccinations and obtain a BC Vaccine Card. Specific updates will be provided to students as they become available.

Rapid Testing Program

  • What is UBC’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program?

    What is UBC’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program?

    UBC requires COVID-19 rapid testing for all students, faculty and staff, with exemptions provided for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All students, faculty and staff are required to complete an online, declaration of their vaccination status. This information is being used to determine whether they are required to participate in UBC’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program or are eligible for an exemption. Those who indicate that they are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, or do not disclose their vaccination status, will be required to take part in regular COVID-19 rapid testing when working or studying on one of UBC’s campuses. If you are working or studying at home or at an off-campus facility controlled by UBC, you are not currently required to take part in COVID-19 rapid testing. Learn more about the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program including specific FAQs.

  • I have already submitted my vaccination status declaration. What happens next?

    I have already submitted my vaccination status declaration. What happens next?

    Those who declared they are fully vaccinated have been contacted, advising of the requirement to verify their status, with proof of vaccination. For those who have not yet declared their status, a reminder has been issued advising of the need to complete the process in order to be exempt from UBC’s required COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program. Our broader community of students, faculty and staff are being contacted directly with details about COVID-19 rapid testing.

    Please note, you are required to take part in COVID-19 rapid testing unless you declare and verify that you are fully vaccinated. Find out more.

  • How can I book an appointment for rapid testing?

    How can I book an appointment for rapid testing?

    More information about booking an appointment and rapid testing requirements is available on the Rapid Testing Program website.

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/.

    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 a result of a Public Health Order, effective August 25, 2021, non-medical masks are required for all indoor public areas at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, including lobbies, hallways, stairwells, elevators, classrooms and labs. The Order also applies to anyone taking public transportation, in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle.

    You can read the Public Health Order here.

  • 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