In February, South Africa began its COVID-19 vaccinations after the originally planned rollout was delayed. The vaccine rollout strategy began with the country’s healthcare workers as they were most at risk, before access to the public was made available, starting with those older than 60. At the time of publication, over eight million South Africans have been vaccinated, and vaccines are available for all people over 18 years old. Students can be vaccinated at Prinshof Campus.

With South Africa currently grappling with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, PDBY reached out to the University of Pretoria’s Director of Institutional Advancement, Rikus Delport, to get the university’s stance on vaccines and the potential way forward for its students.

In response to the country’s last level 4 lockdown, UP suspended all contact classes in line with the lockdown regulations. Given the country’s current level 3 lockdown, UP has yet to recommence with contact classes.

However, with the vaccine soon to be available to younger South Africans, PDBY asked for the university’s stance on vaccines. When asked about the necessity of students getting the vaccine, Delport expressed the importance of vaccines stating, “vaccines give near-complete protection against severe illness and dying from COVID-19. Each person that is vaccinated can save many more lives.”

The university has shown their emphasis on student vaccinations by allocating a site on the Prinshof Campus for staff and students who are registered to be vaccinated.

With regard to the possibility of exams being written on campus during the second semester, Delport had this to say, “the health and safety of our staff are the university’s priorities. It is too early to say at this stage whether examinations will be written on campus.”

Online classes are set to continue for the foreseeable future and return to campus will depend largely on government’s regulation regarding the gathering of groups, along with active COVID-19 cases.

While the UP SRC cannot give out medical advice, the UP SRC has urged students to consult with general practitioners to help advise them on the COVID-19 vaccine and have taken a firm stance against mandatory vaccinations.

The SRC has, however, pledged to help students who are struggling to obtain vaccines and have recommended that if any student is struggling during this time, they should seek assistance from the university’s task team that deals with all COVID-19 related matters.

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My name is Katherine Weber and I am currently a 2nd year BA student majoring in English and History. I enjoy writing short stories and drawing. I want to work in publishing one day because I love reading all types of books.

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Well I am Tankiso Mothopeng, final year International Relations student. I am 20 years old and prefer to do nothing. Literally my biggest hobby is doing nothing. It’s a miracle how I’ve made it to my final year but I made it. But when I’m not doing nothing, I like to dive deep and head first into people’s business. I like news. I like being the center of information and distributing that information. I guess that why I wanted to be a news journalist.