While for most students system was mostly smooth sailing, some struggled
In September, the University of Ottawa made it mandatory for any incoming student, faculty or staff member to certify their vaccination status using the COVID-19 Vaccination Declaration online tool, whether they intended to come to campus or not. However, many students struggled to submit their proof of vaccination through the portal.
Coline Cocchi, an international student from France, expressed she had difficulties with the system.
“I got vaccinated in [M]ay 2020 in the USA,” wrote the first-year political science student to the Fulcrum in an email.
“When [I] went [back] to France [I] had struggled to get a proof of vaccination because in the [USA] they only gave me a small paper with handwritten information and pretty much nothing official,” she explained.
Cocchi told the Fulcrum she received an international declaration of vaccination recognized everywhere in Europe. However, the University’s online tool has only accepted her second dose and refused her first dose.
She attempted to resubmit her proof of vaccination receipt but had yet to hear back from the University.
Calvin Koehl, a student in his second year of teacher’s college, had a similar experience with the vaccine declaration portal.
“I initially submitted my documents through the university portal and they were accepted. This past Monday I received an email saying I had to submit my proof of second vaccination again,” he said in an interview.
“I couldn’t access the portal again. It still said my proof was accepted. I had to contact the university and their IT department. I submitted the same proof [of vaccination] again and haven’t heard anything back since then,” explained Koehl.
Janna Radi, a fourth-year student, also had to call the university’s IT department to remedy these technical issues.
“[I] tried to upload my proof of vaccine but then received[d] an error message, and that occurred many times. I kept refreshing and it just kept giving me an error message. And so I just emailed [the university],” said Radi.
Radi said that it took two days to get a response from the university. Once she was redirected to IT her problems were quickly solved.
In an email, U of O media relations manager Isabelle Mailloux-Pulkinghorn said the University was working with students experiencing issues with the portal.
“The University is working closely with every student that has reached out for help to say they were having problems with the vaccination declaration tool. The University is proud to see the level of collaboration of its students, staff and faculty members,” she wrote.
The U of O community is not the only one experiencing these issues.
Carolina Di Giulio, a third-year journalism and political science student from Carleton University, told the Fulcrum about her experience with uploading her proof of vaccination to cuScreen, Carleton’s equivalent program.
“I’ve run into similar problems at my university using our program CU Screen, where we are required to scan QR codes whenever we enter any building on campus for COVID-tracing,” she said.
“Part of using that system is to also upload proof of vaccination, but lately it has shown error messages whenever I try to enter a building saying I’m unable to do my location-tracking due to lack of vaccine proof. Not only is this untrue, as I live on campus and must be fully vaccinated in order to do so, it has caused me to be delayed when going from class to class,” explained Di Giulio.
After being among the first universities in the country to implement such regulations, the University of Ottawa vaccine declaration survey revealed 91 per cent of staff and students were fully vaccinated.
At the U of O’s BOG meeting on Sept. 27, Jill Scott, the University’s provost and vice-president, academic affairs announced that 96,7 percent of the University of Ottawa community had received at least a single dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. Scott added that she expected those with a single dose to be fully vaccinated in October.
No further update on the University’s vaccination numbers have been released since. It is expected updated numbers will be revealed at the U of O’s Senate meeting on Oct.18.