C19 vaccine for students and their families at Wits Main Campus
Wednesday, 8 September 2021, University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) students, alumni and their families and friends can now receive their COVID-19 vaccinations on the Wits main campus, thanks to a partnership between the University and the Netcare Group.
“It is a top health priority to ensure that everyone has easy access to the COVID-19 vaccine, which remains our best protection against this deadly virus,” says Mande Toubkin, general manager: emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment at Netcare.
For at least the next three weeks until 23 September, the COVID-19 vaccination team from Netcare Milpark Hospital in collaboration with Professor Shabir Madhi, dean of the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences, will assist students from the university, staff, their families and others to receive their vaccines conveniently on campus.
The vaccination site opened on Monday, 6 September, in the Old Mutual Sports Hall at 1 Yale Road, Braamfontein, on the Main Campus of Wits University. The first in line to be vaccinated at the new site was the Wits student representative council (SRC) president, Mpendulo Mfeka, who was vaccinated by Prof Madhi himself.
There is no charge for people who are not on medical aid, and the vaccination will not affect the day-to-day benefit for those with medical aid. The site administers the Pfizer vaccine and is open on weekdays from 08:00 to 15:00. Those wishing to vaccinate simply need to bring their ID document or passport, and will be assisted to register their details on the electronic vaccination data system [EVDS] if they have not already done so.
Jacques Du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division, thanked Prof Madhi and the University on behalf of Netcare for the opportunity to bring vaccinations to the Wits community. “I’m appealing to everyone, in your families and in your communities, bring your mother and father, your sister and your friends, and helpers at home, so that they can be protected. Please make the most of this opportunity for vaccination,” Du Plessis says.
This is another Netcare vaccination “pop-up” site and has initial capacity to vaccinate some 200 persons per day, which can be scaled up to meet demand as needed, answering the Department of Health [NDoH] and Business for South Africa’s [B4SA] call to bring the vaccine to the people. This adds to the four established Netcare Vaccination sites at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, Netcare Lakeview Hospital in Benoni, Johannesburg, Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, in Durban, and Old Mutual Park in Pinelands, Cape Town, which together are able to vaccinate 5000 people daily, Monday to Friday.
To date, Netcare has vaccinated more than 150 000 people including 33 000 healthcare workers at Netcare. An additional 22 Medicross vaccination sites are anticipated to further bolster the national vaccination rollout soon.
“In South Africa, some 13.7 million people have received at least one dose and approximately half of them are fully vaccinated with either the Johnson & Johnson or the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. We need to get to at least 35 million people by the end of the year, however with the vaccination apathy in society we are not likely to reach this level of protection. Unfortunately, we could expect a scenario that we will see a fourth wave from the middle of December and peaking in January,” Du Plessis said at the launch of the Wits vaccination site.
Prof Madhi encouraged the University’s 40 000 students to be vaccinated, as this not only reduces the chance of being infected and suffering serious illness but also of transmitting the virus to others. “The only sustainable manner in which we will be able to get back to a normal lifestyle is to ensure you can protect people, not necessarily only against getting infected, but most importantly to prevent people from developing severe disease and dying from COVID-19. The only thing that is available to us to achieve that goal is vaccines, despite what others might say on social media,” Prof Madhi said.
Toubkin expressed appreciation to Wits’ academic head of the emergency medicine division, Professor Feroza Motara, and academic head of the clinical associate division and chair of the COVID-19 logistics team, Scott Smalley, for their roles in bringing the initiative to fruition. “Thanks to the support of Prof Madhi, what was initially planned as a once off vaccination day has now turned into a three week campaign that will enable thousands of students and others in the Wits community to have this life-saving vaccine,” she adds.
“Many students and university staff have already made use of the COVID-19 vaccination site at Netcare Milpark Hospital. This new initiative brings vaccination even closer, making it more convenient than ever for those studying or working at Wits to be protected as far as possible against COVID-19,” Toubkin says.
“Although the vaccine is highly effective, it is still important to adhere to COVID-19 precautions including maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, practising proper hand hygiene and avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated places. The more people who are vaccinated, the greater the level of protection in our communities and in our country will be, which could save many thousands of lives.”