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Covid-19 Update 74: Wits Mandatory Vaccination Framework

- Senior Executive Team

The proposed Framework has been developed and will be shared with staff, students, senior managers, organised labour, and other constituencies for comment.

Please send your comments to by Monday, 11 October 2021.

[READ] The Wits Mandatory Vaccination Framework

[WATCH] An animation that answers many vaccination questions based on information from the Scientists Collective


Wits is a contact teaching university and the mandatory vaccination of staff and students will enable optimal access, the holistic delivery of the teaching and learning programme, and research to continue. A mandatory vaccination policy protects the health and safety of the University community, members of the public, and advances the public good.


All staff and students, including applicants for study or employment, as well as visitors and service providers will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before accessing campus.


- Staff and students will be required to produce their digital vaccine passport or vaccination cards, which will be linked to their access cards to enable them to enter Wits’ premises.

- Staff will be given paid time-off to get vaccinated, and sick leave should they experience any side-effects associated with the vaccine.


- Students under the age of 18 are exempted (until laws change).

- Staff or students may be exempted on medical grounds (on confirmation from a medical professional that it poses a significant medical risk), Wits may send staff/students for further medial assessment if required. A Committee will be set up to decide on any exemptions based on reasonable accommodation, in line with labour directives.

Students who elect not to be vaccinated on constitutional grounds will be required to:

- undertake daily health screening prior to being allowed entry to Campus;

- buy and always wear an N95 mask, including in lectures, laboratories, during tutorials, and/or during assessments, and on buses; and

- undertake weekly testing (at their own cost) for SARS-CoV-2 infection irrespective of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.

These students will also not be allowed:

- into common areas where social engagements take place;

- to stay in Wits’ residences; and

- to attend in-person graduation ceremonies.

Staff members who elect not to be vaccinated on constitutional grounds will be required to:

- undertake daily health screening prior to being allowed entry to Campus;

- buy and always wear an N95 mask; and

- undertake weekly testing for SARS-CoV-2 infection (at their own cost) irrespective of whether they have COVID-19 symptoms or not.

These staff will also not be allowed into common areas where social engagements take place and may not refuse to return to work on account of not being vaccinated. They can apply for reasonable accommodation from the Wits Mandatory Vaccination Committee. In instances where reasonable accommodation cannot be provided, the University may exercise its rights to terminate the employee’s services based on incapacity in line with the relevant processes and procedures.

Service Providers and Visitors

These rules apply to service providers, the employees of service providers, and visitors who will not be permitted access to Campus or any University facilities unless they are vaccinated.

Wits Mandatory Vaccination Committee

This committee of experts will consider:

- applications for exemption on medical grounds and cases where students are under 18;

- requests for reasonable accommodation by staff members who have been exempted on medical grounds or who have elected not to be vaccinated on constitutional grounds; and

- monitor compliance with the University’s vaccination policy.


We asked Wits scientists, some of the best in the world in their fields, the following questions about vaccines:

Q: Are vaccines safe?

A: COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and highly effective in reducing the risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19), in preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19, and in limiting the spread of the virus.

Read more: All you should know about where we are with Covid-19 vaccines and Six myths about vaccination for Covid-19 put to rest - Wits University

Q: What if it is my personal choice not to get vaccinated?

A: If you do not get the vaccine, you put your health, and the health of others at risk. Scientific evidence has shown that vaccines are the most critical and effective intervention for COVID-19 prevention. When a large proportion of people are vaccinated, there is greater community protection against transmission of the virus, which allows the University community to safely return to on-site teaching, learning, research, operations, and other in-person activities.

At Wits, where most of the teaching and learning takes place in large groups and where students and some staff live in communal housing, a risk of infection and outbreaks exist and can be significantly reduced by ensuring that all members of the University community are vaccinated. In this vein, and in balancing the collective right of the broader University and surrounding community to health and safety, against individual rights to bodily integrity; freedom of religion; belief and opinion, the prevailing view is that the collective right takes precedence. This is in the broader public interest and is reasonable, justifiable, and rational.

Read more: Covid vaccine mandates don’t have to undermine your rights - Wits University

Q: How were COVID-19 vaccines developed so quickly? How do I know if they are injecting me with the virus instead?

A: There is no reason to distrust vaccines just because you do not know what is in it. The COVID-19 vaccines were also developed and approved quickly because scientists already knew and understood much about the coronavirus. Speak to your healthcare professional, someone at Campus Health and Wellness, or a Wits expert.

Read more: How Messenger RNA works in nature and in making vaccines and Fake news and misinformation kill: How can you trust what you are told?

Q: Is Wits’ mandatory vaccination policy a breach of South African labour laws?

A: All Wits’ policies will comply with South African legislation and labour laws. South African labour law puts primacy on the collective rights of people when upholding the rights of any one individual is going to put the collective at risk.

Don’t hesitate. Vaccinate.


7 OCTOBER 2021