Health workers hope this is a temporary hiccup and that Witsies can enjoy the convenience of getting vaccinated on campus again. 

This Wits community can longer get vaccinations because the university only allocated a budget for on-site vaccinations until April 30, 2022.

The co-ordinator of the Wits vaccination testing site, Scott Smalley, says that the budget allowed Wits to get vaccines from the Hillbrow Community Health Centre (CHC). “If we did not finish any vaccines for that day, we would return them at the end of the day by 15:30 to the pharmacy”.

There were two vaccination sites: Wits Sports Multipurpose Hall and a pop-up site on Wits Education Campus in the Centre for Deaf Studies. The site at the Multipurpose Hall was moved to the Campus Health and Wellness Centre at the beginning of April.

According to Tebogo Sibilanga, the senior paramedic in charge of daily vaccination site operations, the pop-up site on Education Campus closed on April 29 and the Wellness Centre is currently only administering antigen tests and providing their normal services.

Raven Lax, a third-year law student who had come to the Wellness Centre for an antigen test on May 3, said the on-site vaccinations had been “very convenient” for students who were unfamiliar with Johannesburg. Lax is one of these students as she moved from Durban for tertiary studies.

Vaccination site staff collaborated with Chatter Hands Café to encourage more Witsies to vaccinate. Photo: Rufaro Chiswo

At the off-campus Parktown residence where the 20-year-old Lax lives, Campus Central Students Accommodation, the building manager, Edwin Muchibwa, believes that many students rely on the onsite vaccinations. He says that the majority of Wits students in the residence (making up 90% of the total occupants) have been vaccinated and they have used Wits facilities to get their vaccines.

The staff at the vaccination sites, however, still stress the importance of getting the vaccine when interacting with the Wits community. Sister Vuyo Ngcobo, an antigen tester at the Wellness Centre, says that when she is administering the antigen tests, she educates clients because the Wits community has minimal knowledge about covid-19.

Until the end of April, the Wellness Centre had an incentive programme where Witsies received a R5 voucher for coffee at Chatter Hands Café on the education campus after being vaccinated.

Smalley says, considering the success of these last three months, “We are requesting to continue the budget for providing vaccines via the Campus Health and Wellness Centre to the end of the year and via a mobile vaccination unit for two more months.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Sister Vuyo Ngcobo administers an antigen test to third-year law student, Raven Lax. Photo: Rufaro Chiswo