Rhodes University in Makhanda, Eastern Cape, has now made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory in order to allow all staff and students back on campus for the next academic year.

This follows the university council’s approval of the senate recommendation for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations.

Ultimately, this means that students, as well as staff, will be required to produce proof of vaccination before they can set foot on campus.

Director for Communication and Advancement, Luzuko Jacobs says, “The recommendation and the approval follow a thorough investigation of the law but also taking into account the proven irrefutable evidence that the vaccines can help in terms of mitigating some of the major risks.”

“It is on this basis that the university working with stakeholders both internally and externally have arrived at this position where the university is able to do the best it can to create a conducive environment that is protected from overt risks,” adds Jacobs.

Earlier this month, the Wits SRC came out strongly in opposition to the idea of mandatory vaccination. The SRC said compelling people to vaccinate goes against people’s right to choose, as enshrined in the Constitution.

Wits SRC president Sithembiso Dabula said: “We are rejecting mainly because we are pro-choice. We are not saying students mustn’t vaccinate, we are against the framework that Wits is proposing. So, Wits is forcing students and staff to vaccinate. So, we are not against people vaccinating, we are against Wits forcing people to vaccinate. People should decide for themselves whether they want to vaccinate or not.”

Meanwhile, Higher Health SA says it is still too early to make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for the higher education sector.

The Higher Health says each institution will have to look at its structure before making the decision.

The CEO of Higher Health SA, Ramneek Ahluwalia says, “Before any university makes any decision of this kind, a proper consultation [with all stakeholders should be conducted] until [everyone] understands the environment they are in.”

More universities contemplating mandatory vaccination: