Students can receive a COVID-19 vaccination or test without needing an appointment. The GGD (Public Health Service) hopes it will boost vaccination levels and (international) students seem to find it a comfortable way to get one.
In an email sent to students on August 13, the university points out that students can still get vaccinated against COVID-19 – now without having to make an appointment. They can get the vaccine at Martiniplaza until at least September 5. The vaccination location is open to more than just students; anyone that wants a vaccine can get one.
This week and the next, the GGD will also set up pop-up locations where people can get vaccinated without an appointment. On Thursday, September 2, they’ll be in the Martini church, where the new international students invited to the Welcoming Ceremony can get vaccinated on site. Others can get the jab on Wednesday, September 8, at the Academy building and on Thursday, September 9, at the Willem Alexander Sports Centre at Zernike.
Prisca Bienvenüe, a biomedical engineering student who’s new to Groningen, decided to get vaccinated at Martiniplaza instead of in her home country of South Africa. ‘The vaccination process in South Africa is much slower’, she says. ‘I also think the possibility of people getting a vaccine here is a bit higher because you don’t have to mould your whole day around making an appointment – it’s nice’.
Prisca saw both students and families at Martiniplaza. ‘It’s an interesting environment, because everyone is there for the same reason, and everyone seems to be capitalising off this situation’, she says with a laugh.
According to GGD spokesperson Hanneke Mensink, there are still quite a few people in Groningen who haven’t been vaccinated yet. ‘Perhaps they missed the opportunity of receiving one, hesitated to get a vaccine, or maybe they were on vacation’, she says. It’s this ability to get a vaccine without having to make an appointment that the GGD hopes will increase vaccination rates.
Prisca believes the approach might work. ‘I think it’s very effective to create leniency with something that is important’, she says. ‘People see getting the vaccine in the Netherlands as less of a threat because one: you’re able to receive one without an appointment, and two: there’s not as much pressure on needing to have a vaccine’.
Italian student Federica Lodice concurs. Due to heart problems, she will currently not be receiving the vaccine herself. ‘It’s not because I don’t want to’, she says. ‘But because of my underlying condition I’m worried about the repercussions for my health.’ In Italy, it’s said that the vaccine is voluntary. Without it, however, people aren’t allowed to do the same things vaccinated individuals do, such as going to a bar to get a coffee, a daily habit for many people there.
Says Federica: ‘I’ve only been here for twenty days, but I already see a difference in that people that choose to not get the vaccine can still participate in society’.