SAUS waits on mandatory vaccine policy

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) says it’s hopeful that guidelines on a mandatory vaccine policy will bring clarity and relief regarding vaccinations at institutions of higher learning.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced on Tuesday that a team of experts had been put together to provide guidelines on mandatory vaccines at universities.

Some universities have already implemented such a policy while others have put it on hold until they get a directive from the department.

The SAUS is opposed to students being compelled to vaccinate in order to gain access to universities.

Union spokesperson Asive Dlanjwa says, “As far as the national government is concerned, there is no indication of no mandates, that are in place that is of the rights of the national government. If indeed the guidelines that are to be published by the department are in line with the processes that are underway, we are hopeful and of the view that the institutions that went on and forced students to the vaccine. There will be relief in that regard and those that have not already will also not adopt mandates that are outside the current national trajectory with regards to mandates.”

DA against any possible mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it has taken a position against any possible mandatory vaccination policy by the government for COVID-19. The issue of mandatory vaccination has generated a lot of public debate since the outbreak of the pandemic.

The party says while it strongly supports vaccination against the pandemic, current evidence shows that vaccines are less effective at preventing transmission.

It says the number of infections is still occurring amongst highly vaccinated populations.

DA Head of Policy, Gwen Ngwenya, says at present there is no significant pressure on hospitals due to COVID-19.

“Today the DA after lengthy consultation with the public health experts has taken a position on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. Our position is that we strongly support and we will continue to advocate for COVID-19 vaccination which protects against severe disease and deaths due to COVID-19.

“However, we are opposed to mandatory vaccination. The social risk to be assessed which mandatory policy vaccination is attempting to mitigate is significant pressure on hospitals due to COVID-19. Yet there is no significant pressure on hospitals due to COVID-19 at present,” Ngwenya says.

Ngwenya adds that epidemiologists have estimated that over 70% of the South African population have some degree of immunity from vaccination or prior vaccination.

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) said mandatory vaccination is possible if the authorities are well organised.

B4SA expects more court action on vaccine mandates: Martin Kingston:

‘Vaccinate all adults’ 

Health Minister Joe Phaahla recently said he was hopeful a decision on mandatory vaccination would be made before the end of January as vaccine uptake remained low.

He said the government’s main priority remained to vaccinate all adults, at least up to 70% coverage.

Dr Phaahla said he agreed with experts that COVID-19 was moving towards becoming an endemic disease, adding South Africa is ready for this.