Against the backdrop of Table Mountain, on a cold and grey winter morning, the University of Cape Town (UCT), in partnership with the Western Cape Government (WCG), reinforced its commitment to bringing hope to the residents of the Mother City with the launch of the world‑class Community of Hope Vaccination Centre.
Located on UCT’s Forest Hill Residence precinct on Main Road in Mowbray, the vaccination centre provides an opportunity to serve individuals living and working in Cape Town. It forms part of a joint initiative between UCT and the Western Cape Department of Health (DoH).
The 800 m2 marquee vaccination centre boasts 12 vaccination stations and five patient check‑in points. Entrance and exit points are strategically located at the tail end of the residence, and a limited number of parking bays have also been made available. Having a vaccination centre on campus means that UCT staff and students will be able to receive their vaccinations easily. However, use of the site is not limited to the campus community; the doors are open to everyone.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, MEC for Health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, UCT Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, as well as senior members of the university’s leadership lekgotla were among those celebrating the centre’s launch and witnessed an SRC member and UCT senior manager receive their vaccinations.
Several dignitaries celebrated the launch on Monday 30 August, including Western Cape Premier Alan Winde; the MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo; UCT’s Vice‑Chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng; and other senior members of the university’s leadership lekgotla.
Part of the morning’s festivities included a site walkabout, before the audience witnessed Retshedisitswe Precious Molefe, a UCT Student Representative Council (SRC) member, and Aloy Gowne, senior manager in the marketing and stakeholder relations unit in UCT’s Communication and Marketing Department (CMD) receiving their vaccines. Molefe and Gowne received their first and second shots respectively.
An open invitation
Professor Phakeng said the university community is excited about the opportunity to serve their neighbours who live and work in Mowbray and surrounding areas.
She said the university has issued a special invitation to all staff and students who have not yet been vaccinated to make their way to the centre. The same invitation is also open to ordinary members of the public.
“We want all our neighbours to have the protection the vaccine provides against the worst possible effects of COVID‑19.”
She said the site location has been well thought out; it’s just a stone’s throw away from the Mowbray public transport interchange, the N2 highway, the campus community and many businesses and residential communities, making it an ideal location.
“We want all of our neighbours to have the protection the vaccine provides against the worst possible effects of COVID‑19. This new vaccination site is our way of giving back to the local community, by providing the physical space and facilities,” she said.
“We welcome all of you.”
Dr Mbombo said she is proud of the new vaccination centre.
Currently, she said, there is only one solution for helping overburdened healthcare workers fight the COVID‑19 pandemic in the country – and “vaccines are the solution”. Mbombo said she is in the process of lobbying taxi drivers at the Mowbray taxi rank to visit the site to receive their vaccines.
“They asked me, ‘Are they going to be asking for a student card?’ I said no [it’s for everyone]. We’ll provide quality care services whoever you are,” Mbombo said.
The Community of Hope Vaccination Centre is open to UCT staff, students and members of the public.
Next on her department’s canvassing list are staff at salons and other businesses in the area, who Mbombo said she hopes will also visit the centre to receive their vaccinations. She also encouraged matric pupils to get vaccinated, especially those who are considering participating in the annual Rage Festival to celebrate the end of their final exams later this year.
“[It’s] vaccinations before vacations, [it’s] jabbing before jolling,” she said.
Premier Winde said he remains grateful for the partnership between the WCG and UCT’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS), which has laid the foundation for the vaccination centre. Looking ahead, he said it’s important that this partnership evolves to include other critical areas, such as education and economics.
“We’ve shown that we could put together a world‑class response to tackle this major [COVID‑19] pandemic. Let’s take the same energy and know‑how and put it towards fixing our economy, and to creating jobs and hope for young people,” he said.
As more time passes, Winde said, the “pandemic is moving on” – it’s no longer just a health issue, but has become an economic and societal issue as well.
“It’s something that we all have to take individual responsibility for, and the one thing that we need to be doing now is getting our jab percentages up.”
“It’s something that we all have to take individual responsibility for, and the one thing that we need to be doing now is getting our jab percentages up, so that we can actually start to get the economy going again,” he said.
He thanked healthcare workers in the province for their commitment and dedication, and for courageously playing an integral role in fighting the pandemic.
“We owe you a huge debt of gratitude. That is the most important reason why we need jabs. We need jabs so that we can protect our health system in December when the next wave comes. Our healthcare workers are the real stars who have come up in South Africa and in this province in the last year and a half. From us here, we say thank you very much.”
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