A hall usually full of sweaty athletes will now be filled instead by students and staff with sleeves rolled up, ready for their jabs. 

Wits University has launched its first covid-19 vaccination site on campus, in collaboration with Netcare, to increase the uptake of vaccines in the Wits community.  

The site opened on Monday, September 6, 2021, at the Wits Multipurpose Sports Hall on Braamfontein East Campus. An effort to bring the vaccine closer to where people work and study.  

The launch was attended by Professor Shabir Madhi, dean of the faculty of health sciences, Jerome September, dean of student affairs, and Mpendulo Mfeka, Wits SRC president. Madhi administered a Pfizer vaccine to Mfeka as one of the site’s first vaccinees. Over 200 people got jabbed in the first two days. 

The site will operate until September 23 on a walk-in basis, and is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 until 16:00.  

Scott Smalley, the Wits academic head of division for clinical associates, says the site can accommodate first or second Pfizer jabs for 36 000 Wits students and 11 000 staff, including alumni, immediate family and household members.  

“Our philosophy at this site is to not turn anyone away. We will help you,” says Smalley. “If we can get our own [Wits] community up to 80 or 90% vaccinated, then we can all return to face-to-face classes.” However, the site is currently not open to the general public.  

Mande Toubkin, a Netcare group manager for emergency and trauma, says working with Wits on the site has been positive.  

“It took us a week to get it up and running,” says Toubkin. “We’re excited to vaccinate people and the entire team has been magnificent.” 

Scott Smalley (front) and Mande Toubkin (behind) are in charge of the Wits vaccination site’s operations. Photo: Matthew Nijland.

Wits has previously encouraged its community to get jabbed at sites near campus, including Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, Liberty Braamfontein, Hillbrow Clinic, and Yeoville Recreational Centre.  

Two Wits audiology students, Theresa-Joy Munyembate and Nompumelelo Mathenjwa, say it was more convenient getting their second jabs at Wits.  

“For our first ones, we had to go into Braam to the Liberty Wellness Centre,” says Munyembate. “Wasn’t too far, but we come on campus to study anyway. It’s so nice just to take a break and go get our vaccine shots done.” 

“The convenience just makes sense,” adds Mathenjwa. “It makes things so much easier and kind of prompts you to do it, even if you didn’t want to.” 

Two Wits audiology students, Theresa-Joy Munyembate (left) and Nompumelelo Mathenjwa (right), moments after getting their second jabs at the site. Photo: Matthew Nijland.

FEATURED IMAGE: Theresa-Joy Munyembate prepares to get her jab from a nurse at the Wits vaccination site in the Multipurpose Sports Hall. Photo: Matthew Nijland.