20 April 2021
Africa University in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOH) through its Old Mutare Hospital rolled out the first doses of the Sinovac COVID- 19 vaccine . The vaccine works by using killed viral particles to expose the body’s immune system to the virus without risking a serious disease response (Source:https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-55212787). Only 52 doses were available for staff and students with the MOH pledging to continue with the vaccination roll out within the week as more doses arrive in the country.
Sister in Charge of the Bishop Alfred L. Norris Health Center Mrs. Tsitsi Murapa said,
“Many wanted to be vaccinated but we did not have enough doses . We have been assured by the Ministry of Health that more are coming. While we are happy with the turn out that we have had today and the level of interest in wanting to get vaccinated, there are still some misconceptions about the vaccine where there are concerns that it will make the subject sick or have dangerous side effect in the long term. Through information and raising awareness, we are making inroads into dispelling these assumptions ,assuring our community of the safety of the vaccine and encouraging people to ask the medical professionals and not give into misinformation. From our experience as health workers on the frontline who were one of the first to be vaccinated, we have have not had any adverse effects reported. We encourage those with underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic conditions to be vaccinated. To fight this Pandemic, we need more people to volunteer for vaccination with the view to attaining herd immunity.”
Herd immunity or population immunity is the indirect protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection. Immunity through vaccination is advocated against the COVID-19 Pandemic (World Health Organization)
Yolanda Washaya who serves as the i5 Hub Manager emphasized the importance of knowing one’s health status and responding accordingly to mitigate contracting and transferring the virus. She said,
“I decided to get vaccinated to protect myself and the people around me. I would urge everyone to do the same as these are uncertain times and we may be living with this pandemic for a while so it is better to be safe. We have seen so much death around us so when given an opportunity to protect oneself why not do it? Many people have underlying health conditions and being conscious of this, we need to take proactive steps to protect ourselves.”
One of the Africa University students who was vaccinated, Jeovanni Mendoca Mendes, an Angolan student doing his Masters in Public Policy said,
“The COVID- 19 Pandemic has forced us to adapt our lives in ways we never imagined especially as it relates to hygiene and our interactions with each other. We can never take for granted or assume that we are healthy and all is well with our bodies. We need to give ourselves the best possible chance to beat this Pandemic and this vaccine is part of that process. I see the vaccine almost as a bullet proof vest that will protect me. I know I am still vulnerable but it gives me additional protection and peace of mind especially as I relate with my peers.”
Reflecting on the challenges that the Pandemic has presented to him and other students on the continent and around the globe, Clarence Daddy’s Boy Powell, a Liberian Masters student also in the Public Policy and Governance programme said after receiving his vaccination,
“Like so many students in Africa, the pandemic took a toll on me. At first, I found it difficult to adapt to the “new normal” especially with the online learning and the covid-19 regulations. When I heard that there would be vaccinations on campus, I made a decision to take it because I’m eager for things to go back to normalcy. I’m eager to be able to move without the fear of contracting the virus although, I know that going back to normalcy might be difficult. This vaccination is important because it will protect me from being infected or spreading the disease to others. It is important for everyone to get vaccinated in order to save oneself and the environment. As students, we greatly appreciate the University Management for arranging for the vaccine to reach campus especially for international students.”
Africa University has managed to ensure that its operations, teaching and learning have continued uninterrupted through out the Pandemic. Through enforcing and adhering to strict social distancing protocols, emphasis on the need for constant observation of good hygiene practices in work spaces for essential staff and constant environmental scanning and adaptation to the new normal, the institution has managed to ensure academic progression and a safe working environment for staff .