COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

November 30th, 2021

Objective 

To articulate a COVID-19 Vaccination Policy for the re-opening of the Ottawa Shambhala Centre (OSC) to in-person public sittings and programs.  

Applicability 

The OSC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy is applicable to all in-person staff and participants who attend public events held at the Centre.

Policy Statement 

All OSC in-person program staff and participants are required to be fully vaccinated (i.e. minimum of two vaccinations) against COVID-19, except for those who have valid medical exemptions for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In order to participate in-person at public events held at the Centre, participants must be willing to show valid proof of vaccination documentation or valid proof of medical exemption documentation. 

The standard proof of vaccination documentation consists of: 1) a COVID-19 vaccination receipt issued by your province/state of residence; and 2) valid identification (e.g. driver’s license) confirming the name and date of birth as shown on the vaccination receipt.

The standard proof for a medical exemption for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 consists of a document completed and authorized by a physician or a registered nurse clearly stating the medical reason why the individual cannot be vaccinated against COVID-19 and the effective time-period for the medical reason. The medical exemption document must also include the physician’s or nurse’s professional logo or letterhead (Source: Ministry of Health website, “Proof of Vaccination Guidance under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020,” Version 4, November 16, 2021).

Rationale

Generally, the OSC’s COVID-19 Vaccination Policy goes beyond provincial guidelines for organizations designated as Houses of Worship, such as the OSC, which are not required under these guidelines to ensure that attendees are fully vaccinated. 

However, based on a recent survey of OSC members, a clear majority of respondents would only feel safe coming to the Centre for a program or event if all participants have been “fully vaccinated.”

Ottawa Public Health has cautioned that attendees of Places of Worship tend to be older and therefore have more chronic health conditions than the population on average, and encourages Places of Worship to consider the risks from COVID-19 to their attendees, which is still circulating in the community and could have resurgences (Source: Ottawa Public Health website, “COVID-19 Information for Community Partners and Service Providers”). 

OSC members have expressed similar concerns regarding the potential risks posed to those with vulnerable health conditions who may attend in-person programs or events. For example, a “vulnerable health” respondent to the OSC members’ survey requested that safe COVID-19 protocols be implemented for any in-person events held at the Centre. 

Further, the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) recent policy statement on COVID-19 proof of vaccine certificates states that a proof of vaccination requirement by any organization―for the purpose of protecting people when receiving services―is generally permissible under the Human Rights Code (Code), provided that those who are unable to be vaccinated for valid medical reasons are reasonably accommodated (e.g. accepting proof of medical exemption documentation). 

The OHRC’s policy statement also noted that a person who chooses not to be vaccinated based on personal preference or belief does not have the right to accommodation under the Code (Source: OHRC website, OHRC Policy statement on COVID-19 vaccine mandates and proof of vaccine certificates, September 22, 2021).

The OSC encourages those who choose not to vaccinate for reasons of personal preference or belief to participate in the OSC’s on-line sittings and programs via Zoom, when available.