The Minister for higher education, Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo has tasked higher learning institutions to make it easier for students, staff and management get access to Covid-19 vaccines to ensure safe reopening.
Muyingo made the call on Friday while at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) on a tour to access how compliant institutions are to the SOPs and guidelines.
“I expect all these institutions to make it easier for one to be vaccinated. I’m expecting a place like this one to have a facility but even those that don’t have the facilities to work within, I expect them to work with the Ministry of Health and set up vaccination centres. We want to make it easy not only for students and staff but also the environment,” Muyingo said.
The minister was in the company of the executive director of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) Prof. Mary Okwakwol and the regional director for Seed Global health Dr. Bonaventure Ahaisibwe.
Delivering his remarks, Muyingo reiterated the Ministry of Education’s policy to have everybody at the learning institutions vaccinated before accessing the premises. He said, despite the availability of vaccines, some students have not received jabs for unknown reasons.
Muyingo remarked that as the ministry, they want to find out why some students and staff members remain unvaccinated so that they sit together and devise ways of addressing those challenges.
“So, we want to understand why some people have not taken the jab. If they are good reasons, we listen to them, if they are not good reasons, we shall have to either ask some of them to do it online, study online, teach online otherwise, with life, we’re not ready to just try,” he said.
On her part, Okwakwol advised the management of Mbarara University to try by all means to ensure that those who’re not vaccinated get jabs.
“The university has also been advised that even if it means persuading because we are aware that some people have developed negative attitudes. So, even if it means persuading them, it is necessary for their good and for the good of the communities where they live and where they study,” Okwakwol said.
Meanwhile, Ahaisibwe, applauded Mbarara University for the efforts in registering a significant uptake in vaccination which he said now stands at 70% of all students.
“The university has put in place special measures, dedicated days when students are allowed to come and access vaccines and given priority and we think this shall be very instrumental in increasing coverage,” Ahaisibwe said.
Ahaisibwe noted that despite some unique situations that were noted like people who have just suffered from Covid-19 not being able to be vaccinated immediately, there’s a stipulated amount of time they have to wait and said there should be no excuses for not getting the jabs.
He added that as SEED Global Health, they had an opportunity to partner with Mbarara University to support training of emergency care.
“This has come very handy because emergency-care practitioners have not been able to not only go to Covid treatment units but have also been able to support training in the region in infection, protection and control and help the university set up a Taskforce and be ready for safe reopening,” Ahaisibwe said.