Mandatory vaccines in South Africa: Can a blanket approach be justified?

Solidariteit says it can not. The organisation's Connie Mulder spoke to journalist Izak du Plessis about the matter.

A blanket approach expecting everyone to be vaccinated cannot be justified.

This is the opinion of Connie Mulder, head of research at Solidariteit.

“This is why we are taking four cases to court in the fight against mandatory vaccinations,” says Mulder.

Solidariteit received more than 300 enquiries about mandatory vaccinations in December last year because of the first disciplinary steps against people who are not vaccinated.

The first big case is against the University of the Free State’s vaccination policy which will start on February 14.

The policy, which was approved in November last year, gives the university the right to refuse entry to the university if the person is not vaccinated.

“We think vaccines are safe and effective, we think they work very well, however, we are against mandatory vaccination from the very start,” says Mulder.

“This is echoed by the Department of Labour’s directive which states explicitly that mandatory vaccination is against the spirit of the labour act.”

According to Mulder employers follow their own policies about vaccinations and do just what they want.

“They even use the pandemic as an excuse to fire employees without following the right procedures, which is unacceptable,” says Mulder.

“Mandatory vaccination should be the exception, not the absolute rule.”

Mulder says a hardened stance about mandatory vaccination will have a detrimental effect on the country’s vaccination programme, because a lot of people are hesitant for various reasons.

“In South Africa only 40% of adults are fully vaccinated and six out of ten young adults (18 – 34) are not vaccinated. This means the University of the Free State will have to exclude most of their students on campus,” says Mulder. 

“We have seen in other countries where 80% of the people are vaccinated, that mandatory vaccinations harden resistance which leads to protests. In South Africa where 60% of the people are not vaccinated, we will be naïve to think people will not protest.”

Mulder says Covid will be with us for a long time and later become endemic.

“We will have to learn how to handle and live with it,” he says.

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