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Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Serving with passion

VACCINATE: Benjamin de Waal is CPUT'S Vaccination Manager. VACCINATE: Benjamin de Waal is CPUT'S Vaccination Manager.

Benjamin de Waal has always had a passion for serving the community and this passion shines through in his role as CPUT’s Vaccination Manager.

At the age of 14, he started volunteering at his local Disaster Management and National Sea Rescue Institute “and from that point, it was really the only thing I wanted to do”.

He followed his dream and completed his National Diploma in Emergency Care at CPUT in 2005, followed by his BTech in Emergency Care in 2008. He also holds a Master of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from Stellenbosch University and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Higher Education at CPUT in 2015.

De Waal said that when the Sisonke study started, he assisted with the coordination of Faculty of Health and Wellness Sciences staff and students with the Department of Health to gain access to the vaccination for health care workers.

“From there I have been involved in the CPUT vaccination programme and when the opportunity emerged to create our own vaccination centre, I was very interested in making a contribution. As I have been managing academic programmes, had a background in epidemiology and epidemiological research, disaster management and as an emergency care practitioner with experience in managing critically ill patients with infectious diseases, I believed I could make a meaningful contribution to the CPUT community by taking up this challenge,” said the senior lecturer and head of the Bachelor of Emergency Medical Care Programme.

“Although I am primarily in Emergency Medical Sciences (EMS), vaccination has for many decades been a cornerstone of all healthcare systems and of course of infectious disease epidemiology. As such all healthcare workers are well equipped to provide vaccinations to patients and partaking in driving vaccination programmes.” 

He paid tribute to his colleagues from the Department of Nursing, EMS, the HIV Unit and Campus Health, who have been instrumental in making the centre a reality and a success.

“This had truly been a CPUT community effort.”

De Waal said the vaccination programme roll-out has been very fast-paced with things evolving quickly and at short notice.

“We have managed to vaccinate over 13000 people at our centre, with many of them being elderly or people at high risk of severe Covid-19. Knowing that we may have directly assisted in protecting these people from suffering or death as a result of Covid-19 is very rewarding. As our centre is located in an area with historically low healthcare coverage, we have managed to play a pivotal role in our local geographical area in providing access to vaccination. 

He encourages the CPUT community to get vaccinated.

“I think the most important message is to say that vaccination really does work. It significantly reduces transmission, it significantly reduces your risk of contracting Covid-19 even, with the new variants, and it very significantly reduces your risk of severe disease or death. It is our best defence against Covid-19, and it is safe, much safer than exposing yourself to getting Covid-19. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the vaccine so verify the authenticity of what you are reading or hearing by going to trusted sources. If you are unsure, rather ask a healthcare provider such as those working at the vaccination centre.”

De Waal, a husband and father of two, says family is very important to him.

“We love camping and spending time outdoors in the mountains. I am also an avid mountain biker and trail runner. “ 

Written by Ilse Fredericks

Email: Frederickskennediji@cput.ac.za