‘Govt to engage concerned groups on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy’

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Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla says the government will continue to engage with all concerned groups regarding the possible introduction of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.

He says at this stage government remains reluctant to impose obligatory vaccination. Over 80000 people have so far succumbed to the virus  in South Africa.

A total of 11-point-six million people in the country have now received at least one dose of a vaccine with five-point four million of them considered to be fully vaccinated after receiving the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine or both doses of the Pfizer jab. Phaahla was addressing a virtual media briefing.

Phaahla has expressed confidence in government’s ability to continue securing and delivering enough COVID-19 vaccines to the population.

More than 22% of the South African adult population has now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – with over 11 million vaccines having been administered across the country so far.

Below is the media briefing:

Minister commends youth on vaccination drive

Phaahla, has commended the youth for their enthusiastic response to the country’s vaccination drive. Registrations for the 18 to 34 age group opened last week with more than 500 000 registering on the first day.  Phaahla said the youth vaccination figures remain over 80 000 per day.

“Exactly 7 days ago, we opened up registrations and vaccinations for everybody over the age of 18. The response of our young people has been overwhelming. For the 18-34s vaccinations, we reached 81 000 on Friday, 20th. On Monday, we reached 93 000 –  on the 24th, another 99 000 and 98 000 on the 25th. Yesterday, we were able to reach 89 000 and that is only for those in the category of 18-34.”

Vaccination is not mandatory

Provincial Chief Inspector for the Labour Department, Boikie Mampuru says employees have the right to refuse to be vaccinated.

“Any employer obviously wants to make the operation to be efficient. In that sense, he must then develop a risk assessment that will mitigate against COVID-19. What we are saying is that, if there is an employer who wants to force people to be vaccinated, the dispute can be handled internally. If there are no dispute mechanisms, the employee has a right to lodge for an unfair dismissal, which normally is handled by one of the entities of the Department of Labour which is CCMA.”

North West Health Department Spokesperson, Tebogo Lekgethoane, echoes the same sentiments.

“To date, vaccination is not mandatory in South Africa. However, the department encourages vaccination in order to attain population immunity. People who are vaccinated stand a better chance of resisting the severity of the illness if they do contract the virus. The understanding is that even the new occupational health and safety measures do not make vaccines mandatory.”

There has been some resistance to the vaccine programme: