Excited over-18s join vaccine rollout, look forward to a 'normal life'

20 August 2021 - 13:59 By gill gifford
Young adults register at a Covid-19 vaccination site in Gauteng on Friday.
Young adults register at a Covid-19 vaccination site in Gauteng on Friday.
Image: Gauteng health department/Supplied

There was much excitement on day one of the national rollout of vaccines for the 18-to-34 age group on Friday.

“I’m definitely getting it as soon as I can,” said first-year accounting student Nika Fourie, 18. “There is a huge level of excitement about it because we’re all tired of the sacrifices and challenges, and now it looks like there is an end to the nightmare. We can all start working towards the goal of getting things back to normal — or rather the new normal

“My mom and dad are vaccinated, my grandparents are vaccinated, now it’s my turn. My boyfriend has registered for it, I am registered and so is my best friend. It’s our turn now.

“The stats are looking good. I know Covid is going to be a problem for years still, but things are starting to look better and it will get easier.”

Fourie was required to have the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer and be vaccinated against meningitis before she was allowed to enter the residence at North West University in Potchefstroom, where she is studying to be a chartered accountant.

“So I know what being vaccinated is all about. And I know I will probably not feel great for a little while, but that’s not serious.

“I’ve done all the research and the science checks out. Those who are against the vaccine I think just do it because they love the attention and drama,” Fourie said, dismissing the anti-vaxxer worries that some people have been expressing, such as fears of infertility, being microchipped, injected with the coronavirus or having their own DNA changed.

Kyle Ramdutt, 21, of Mayberry Park in Ekurhuleni was one of the first in line to get the jab in Gauteng. He was vaccinated at the Thokoza Youth Centre in less than an hour.

“It doesn’t take too long. Come and get your vaccine, guys. Do it for your country and do it for yourself,” he said.

Liesl Strydom, 19, is a first-year BSc student at Wits University, studying biology and chemistry, but has yet to attend normal lectures.

“I am quite excited about getting vaccinated because it means that by next year we might actually go back to campus and have a normal life again. When everything is online you don’t see or talk to anyone, and it’s quite lonely and boring.

“I know the vaccine is never going to make things 100% safe, but I like knowing that I will be able to practise medicine one day without feeling scared or like I am risking my life,” she said, expressing excitement at the possibility of one day becoming involved in vaccine research.

Social and environmental campaigner Ulrich Janse van Vuuren, 34, of Johannesburg has a million followers on Twitter and has been actively calling on young people to join him in the vaccination queue.

Social and environmental campaigner Ulrich Janse van Vuuren waits in the queue at the Parkhurst Recreation Centre to be vaccinated. He urged his 1-million Twitter followers to join him in participating in the rollout.
Social and environmental campaigner Ulrich Janse van Vuuren waits in the queue at the Parkhurst Recreation Centre to be vaccinated. He urged his 1-million Twitter followers to join him in participating in the rollout.
Image: Ulrich Janse van Vuuren

“I am feeling a tremendous amount of relief that I am finally able to get vaccinated. I’ll never take the small things in life for granted ever again,” he said.

“Family members and people close to me have become seriously ill or passed away, lost their livelihoods or are living with the after-effects of the illness.

“I want to pick up the pieces, reclaim my life and not have to live with the daily fear and uncertainty of potentially passing Covid-19 on to my loved ones, or not knowing whether I’ll die if I contract it.”

Janse van Vuuren was one of a crowd of people of various ages in the queue at the Parkhurst Recreation Centre, where some cheerful conversations were going on, some people were preoccupied with their phones and others waited quietly with their headphones on.

He said while he respected the rights of those choosing not to be vaccinated, he was hopeful that “open dialogue will continue, even beyond the pandemic, around vaccine hesitancy”.

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