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Change the world


Despite slight apprehension to take the COVID-19 vaccine, according to various polls, South African youth have been turning up to get the jab after registration, and walk-ins, were opened to them last week.

At Nelson Mandela University’s Gqeberha and George vaccination sites – which services staff, students and the general public – more than 350 young people have been vaccinated since sites opened to this age group.

The George Campus vaccination site, which is part of an outreach agreement with the Harry Comay Hospital that operates every Tuesday, has vaccinated more than 50 students thus far as at close of business on Monday, 23 August 2021.

At the University’s Summerstrand vaccination site, a total 356 young people had received the first of their two-dose Pfizer vaccine by the end of the day yesterday (23 August 2021). Of those, 178 were Mandela University students and the remainder were members of the public.

“It has been great to see the turnout of students these last two days, especially since we got a sense that there wasn’t a great appetite for vaccination from a recent survey we conducted,” said Sr Althea Hawkins, from the Student Health Services (pictured below addressing students before their vaccination).

“I think the more that young people see their peers going for their vaccination, we might see the numbers pick up. Also, there are students who are still finishing off the ten-day quarantine required when students return to campus and residences, so we could see the numbers picking up later this week.”

Some of the students who opted for vaccination said in spite of a lot of conspiracy theories that have been circulating as well as the resultant fearmongering, getting the vaccine was their way of contributing to national herd immunity and a chance at returning to some semblance of normal life.

Student Representative Council (SRC) president, and third year Law student, Pontsho Hlongwane (pictured below), said he chose to vaccinate in order to protect himself, as well as the most vulnerable people within communities.

“We also can’t help but desire to return to normalcy and for that to happen, we need to reach herd immunity in order to curb the effects of the virus,” he said.

“My vaccination is therefore part of my unwavering commitment to the fight against COVID-19. I would like to also encourage all students to come to the vaccination site – and it is a very quick and easy process – to get theirs. It is only when the University has reached a certain level of herd immunity that we might see some degree of normalcy, where students will be allowed to be on campus to attend mask-to-mask classes and interact with their friends and lecturers.”

Final year master’s in Music Research student, Ngasi Katushabe, said besides contributing to the overall national objective of herd immunity, getting the COVID-19 vaccine had personal and professional significance for him.

“When I finish my masters, I want to pursue a full career in music. For that to happen comfortably, and especially if wanting to travel internationally, I need to get vaccinated. I would really love to see us, as a nation, live our lives and salvage whatever form of normalcy exists at this point,” he said.

Asked how he was feeling, Katushabe said: “I think it might be psychosomatic, but I think I’m at a point where I feel something, but I think my mind is telling me that I need to feel something. Otherwise, there is not real feeling right now. I’m just happy I did this.”

Final year Education student, Antoinette van Rooyen, said her decision to take the vaccine was influenced by seeing the devastating effects of the pandemic on families.

“I have seen a lot of families affected and losing loved one, and I thought about how I wouldn’t like to contract COVID-19 or pass it on to other who may not be able to handle it. So as much as I’m protecting myself, I’m also considering those around me,” she said.

First year BSc Microbiology student, Tsosoloso Moeng, said her family has been affected by COVID-19 and she wanted to limit the chances of serious illness from the virus.

“My mom had cancer last year, so her immune system is quite compromised, and my dad is an essential worker who has had COVID-19 three times. We’ve been lucky in that everyone’s survived, so I really now just want to help make sure it stays that way. This is why it’s important for me to get vaccinated,” she said.

Moeng also said with all her classes taking place online, she missed socialising with her peers.

“I just want to not have to be at home all day, so just some semblance of social life would be appreciated. The jab is not even a pinch.”

BA Honours in Development Studies student, Jason Pietersen, said he has seen the impact of the pandemic on the country and the devastating effects on people’s lives and livelihoods and wanted to contribute to efforts to return to full-on economic activity.

“We have been in lockdown for a long time and businesses have been severely impacted and students, in particular have been psychologically impacted by this, so my decision to get vaccinated was a way to help us get out of this pandemic,” he said.

“I have a lot of people in my circle who are not for vaccination, and I hope that by seeing me, they are encouraged to follow suit.”

First year BA student, Erin Harty, said she decided to get vaccinated as her parents had also received the vaccine, during the trial, and doing so would enable her to travel for sporting commitments.

“I do worry about what side effects I may get, but this is important to me because I want to travel overseas. As a community, too, if we want to go back to ‘normal’, we need to get vaccinated,” she said.

Young people are encouraged to visit to register for the vaccine. Mandela University’s vaccination site is open Mondays to Thursdays, from 09:00 to 14:00; and Fridays from 09:00 to 12:00. The site is closed on weekends.

George Campus is open on Tuesdays only, from 09:00 to 14:00.

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777