From Velisile Bukula
Senior Communications Officer, Rhodes University
Rhodes University has joined other universities in the fight against COVID-19 by establishing an on-campus vaccination site situated at its Gavin Relly Postgraduate Village.
“Today marks an important milestone for our University as we make a significant contribution in the implementation of the National Strategy of the Department of Health, Department Higher Education, Science and Innovation and Higher Health,” said Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, at the launch on July 20.
Rhodes University has assisted in the fight against COVID-19 in various ways since the start of the pandemic through various task teams, departments and faculties. The vaccination site marks the latest development and aims to increase the availability of the number of sites to vaccinate the adult population by March 2022.
The Rhodes University Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, who is also the Chairperson of the Coronavirus Task Team (CVRTT), Dr ‘Mabokang Monnapula-Mapesela, explained that the vaccination site fits in with the goal of CVRTT to “develop and implement a strategy that mitigates the impact of COVID-19 on our staff and students and to ensure continuity of our academic programme”.
According to the framework set out by Higher Health, once all the Rhodes University staff and students eligible for vaccination under the current national rollout plan have been vaccinated, family members and the greater Makhanda community will be vaccinated at the site.
“Our partnering with Sarah Baartman Department of Health in becoming an outreach vaccination site means that we will be able to contribute meaningfully to the vaccination drive of the wider Makhanda community and the Province of the Eastern Cape,” Dr Mabizela explained.
Due to limited resources, the University aims to vaccinate 80 to 100 people per day in the beginning and hopes to increase this number to 200 per day.
Rhodes University academic Professor Rosie Dorrington, who specialises in virology, was at the launch to encourage those who may be hesitant about receiving their vaccine. She said, “The vaccine is the only way that you will avoid serious illness and possible hospitalisation from this virus. In my opinion, this is the most serious health threat humankind has faced in the last 100 years, and this is the most serious virus that we will face in our lifetime.”
She also explained that, within ten days of the first jab, there is a 90% chance of not ending up in the hospital and being seriously ill from COVID-19. The second dose reminds your body to fight off the virus and gives long-term immunity, she added.
“We are not helpless, nor are we without agency in confronting this menacing coronavirus. There are actions we can take to protect ourselves and those around us,” said Dr Mabizela.
Rhodes University thanks its partners, staff members, students, and members of the community who helped make this vaccination site a reality.