Amid fears that a potential third wave of COVID-19 will put children at risk, colleges and universities want students who are 18 years and above to be fully vaccinated before physical classes resume. With this in mind, many colleges have already started holding vaccination camps for eligible students and staff members.
Others, such as Bangalore University (BU), are in the process of organising vaccination drives. “We have written to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) about this. As there is talk of a third wave of COVID-19, our students should take all the precautions possible. We want to get the academic calendar, which has been thrown out of gear at the moment, back on track” said K.R. Venugopal, Vice-Chancellor of BU.
Meghana V., a postgraduate student of Christ (Deemed to be university), said that earlier this week the university’s alumni association conducted a vaccination drive for students, staff, and alumni.
While private colleges and universities are asking students to pay for the dose, State-run universities and government colleges are depending on either the BBMP or various NGOs to provide the vaccines for free or to sponsor the doses.
NGOs chip in
D.S. Prathima, principal, Government First Grade College, Malleswaram, said that last Saturday, various NGOs chipped in for a drive it conducted for college students residing in Malleswaram. “We are requesting the same organisations to come forward and vaccinate all our other students after the lockdown is lifted. If all students and staff are vaccinated, fear of coming to the college campus will reduce and attendance will improve. Although we are conducting lectures online, they are not as effective as physical classes,” she said.
Some colleges are using this as an opportunity to spread awareness. T.D. Kemparaju, Vice-Chancellor of Bengaluru North University, said they had instructed lecturers to devote the first few minutes of their online class to raising awareness on the importance of getting vaccinated. “We not only want our students to be vaccinated, but also want their families to take the shots. Moreover, in rural areas, many of our students should be the torchbearers and encourage people to get vaccinated,” he said.
Students’ organisations such as the All-India Democratic Students’ Organisation have appealed to the State government to ensure that physical classes or examinations are conducted only after all the students are fully vaccinated. Students are also urging the government to take up a large-scale drive to vaccinate them on priority.
Avinash S., a postgraduate student, said, “Earlier this month, the State government conducted a free vaccination camp for students who were travelling abroad. They should also prioritise people like us who are studying in universities and colleges in the State,” he said.
Those who have taken Covaxin worried
Many students who have been vaccinated with Covaxin and are going abroad to pursue higher education are worried as the vaccine has not been approved by the World Health Organization.
A student who is set to go to the U.S. for a master’s programme this year said the university he had enrolled in was insisting he take the Pfizer vaccine. He is now planning to go to the U.S. and get vaccinated there. However, he is unsure of the medical implications of taking multiple vaccine doses. “I am consulting with my doctor and hoping that it will be okay to get vaccinated again,” he said.