Rhodes University has launched an on-campus Covid-19 vaccination site at its Gavin Relly Postgraduate Village. This is another development in the university's efforts to aid South Africa in combatting the virus which has taken many lives across the country.
“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 of the vaccination site on 20 July 2021.
Rhodes University has contributed to the fight against Covid-19 in various ways over the past year such as through task teams, departments and faculties at the university. The establishment of the vaccination site is its latest development and the goal is to increase the availability of the number of sites to vaccinate people 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 said that the vaccination site is part of the CVRTT's goal 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”.
The Higher Health's framework states that once the university's staff and students who are eligible to be vaccinated under the current national rollout plan have been vaccinated, then family members and the broader community of Makhanda will be vaccinated at the university's 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.
While their resources are limited the university aims to vaccinate 80 to 100 people per day in the beginning and they hope to increase this number to 200 people per day.
Rhodes University academic Professor Rosie Dorrington, who specialises in virology, spoke at the launch encouraging those who may be hesitant about receiving the vaccine. She says that the vaccine is the only way that people will avoid becoming seriously ill and needing to be hospitalized when contracting Covid-19.
"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,” said the Professor.
Professor Dorrington explained that within the first ten days of receiving the first vaccination, there is a 90% chance of not being hospitalized and being seriously ill from Covid-19. She added that the second dose of the vaccine reminds the body to fight off the virus and gives people long-term immunity.
“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.