Concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 has prompted Cambrian College to make vaccines mandatory for students who will be living on campus.

In a letter issued Friday, college president Bill Best told the student body the decision was made in consultation with Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

"Public Health Sudbury & Districts has shared with us various concerns that can have an impact on post-secondary institutions and which could present unique challenges when it comes to the transmission of COVID-19," the letter said.

"These include the lower vaccination rate among people aged 18-29 in Sudbury and area, the higher local COVID case counts for people in this age bracket, the current dominance of the Delta variant of COVID-19 which is more potent, and the communal living settings typical of college and university residences."

Students need at least one shot of a vaccine approved by Health Canada or the World Health Organization and must be fully vaccinated by the end of the semester.

Students must also be able to provide proof of their vaccine status before moving in on campus.

"This is based on consultations that we've had with Public Health based on their advice and recommendations," said Dan Lessard, Cambrian's manager of communications.

"All through this pandemic we've been following their advice and recommendations, as well as government directives to ensure the health and safety of the people who work here as well as the people who study here. This is becoming a standard practice among an increasing number of colleges and universities."

Lessard said the situation is constantly evolving and they made the decision with the best information they had available.

They plan on working with the health unit to offer vaccine clinics on-site once the school year begins.

He said it's important to note that this is just for students planning to live on residence.

"Public Health specifically mentioned residences because of the fact people are living in closer quarters and they have lots of communal space," Lessard said. "What they have said is they're asking colleges and universities, including schools like Cambrian, to facilitate the vaccination of as many staff and students as possible."

COVID-19 safety protocols and infection prevention measures will be in place throughout their buildings.