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KZN universities weigh in on mandatory vaccination, students not forced but encouraged to vaccinate

Although Western Cape universities are considering mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for their staff and students, KwaZulu-Natal universities say the move is not being considered for their institutions.

A healthcare worker receives a dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. File Picture: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Published Sep 30, 2021

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DURBAN - ALTHOUGH Western Cape universities are considering mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for their staff and students, KwaZulu-Natal universities say the move is not being considered for their institutions.

Both UCT and Stellenbosch University (SU) have announced that they are considering mandatory vaccinations for staff.

Professor Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and vice-chancellor, told the council that it was an institutional priority for the university that all its staff and students be vaccinated against Covid-19.

De Villiers confirmed that the university was exploring the possibility of mandatory vaccinations, learning from the experience of other institutions and organisations in South Africa and worldwide.

The university said its council discussed the matter, and subsequently adopted the motion that the university council mandates management to work toward the urgent development of a rule on vaccination for students and staff for the 2022 academic year.

UCT has come under fire after its senate voted in favour of a proposal to make vaccination mandatory from next year. A petition against the proposal has been launched by the UCT Students and Staff Collective.

KZN universities said they were not enforcing but encouraging vaccination.

Normah Zondo, University of KwaZulu-Natal executive director for corporate relations, said through its College of Health Sciences, it was the first academic institution in the province to be given the green light to operate as a Covid-19 vaccination site.

This commenced on August 30, 2021 and closed on September 17. She said the university did not have any plans to make vaccinations mandatory for either staff or students.

“The university has in place various mechanisms to inspire our student population to get vaccinated. Students are encouraged to vaccinate via regular, accurate communications, direct messaging via social media platforms of the facilities available and the importance of vaccinations.

“Following the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme at UKZN, the university worked closely with the Department of Health to raise awareness about getting vaccinated.”

Mangosuthu University of Technology spokesperson Bheki Hlophe said students were back on campus and they were following all Covid-19 protocols.

“While the university has an on-campus vaccination site, it has not considered mandatory vaccination.”

Alan Khan, senior director of corporate affairs at the Durban University of Technology (DUT), said the university was not currently planning to implement a mandatory vaccination policy. Khan said to ensure the safety of students and staff, DUT continued to offer online teaching and learning. He said only qualifying students who require access to the laboratories for academic purposes were granted permits to be on campus.

“DUT has, through various campaigns, tried to motivate wellness and to promote vaccinations.”

He said after a successful eight-day vaccination drive at the Hotel School on Ritson campus in Durban, vaccinations against Covid-19 will begin today at the Isolempilo Clinic on the Steve Biko campus in Durban.

“Vaccinations will take place every Thursday from 8.30am to 3pm throughout October. No appointment is necessary, staff, students and DUT alumni must simply go to the clinic with their ID and student/staff card.

“We have also hosted a successful vaccination drive on the Indumiso campus in Pietermaritzburg. It was so encouraging to see our students and staff members getting their jabs.

“Students and staff are urged to help DUT get back to some kind of ‘normal’ so please, don’t hesitate, vaccinate!”

THE MERCURY