South Africa
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POLL | Has your company or school introduced mandatory vaccinations?

Several companies and universities have announced plans to roll out mandatory vaccination measures starting in January 2022.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa said the country was considering making vaccines mandatory.

He said the introduction of such measures was a difficult and complex issue, but was necessary to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa said a task team has been set up to undertake broad consultations on making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations. 

He said he was expecting a report from the task team and inter-ministerial committee, adding the report needed to be completed soon so cabinet could take a decision on the matter.

“We live in a country where people have strong views, for and against, and my task as a leader is to nudge everyone in the same direction,” said Ramaphosa. 

“Through the dialogue I said we should have, hopefully we can get everyone to move in a direction where we will all be aware about the dangers of not being vaccinated.

“Vaccination is still our strongest weapon against Covid-19, and I believe we should give our people a chance so they can see the dangers of not being vaccinated.”

On Monday mobile telecommunications company MTN said it will implement a mandatory vaccination policy for staff in SA next year. 

It warned staff who are not exempt but still refuse vaccination that MTN “will not be obliged to continue the employment contract”.

“The science is clear. Vaccination against Covid-19 reduces rates of serious infections, hospitalisation and death,” said MTN CEO Ralph Mupita.

“As an employer, we have a responsibility to ensure our workplaces are guided by the highest standards of health and safety, and that has informed our decision to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for our staff.”

What about my rights? 

Last month the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) found mandatory Covid-19 vaccination would not necessarily be a human rights infringement.

The commission said a general law compelling South Africans to get vaccinated would be constitutionally sound under the right circumstances. However, it called on government to first explore all options to encourage voluntary vaccination.

“The constitution protects several individual rights. These include the right to health, life, freedom of religion, a healthy environment and freedom and security of person. The right of security in and control over one’s body and the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without one’s informed consent are included.

“Limitation is reasonable. However, the constitution does provide for the Bill of Rights to be subject to limitations: Therefore, the rights of individuals, save for non-derogable rights (such as the rights to life and human dignity) can be limited in terms of section 36 of the constitution, firstly, when the limitation of these rights is done in terms of a law of general application, that is if the state passes a law that articulates a general compulsory Covid-19 vaccination regime. Secondly, to the extent that the limitation itself is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

“This means it would be ‘constitutionally permissible’ to require people to vaccinate provided this is done in accordance with the processes stipulated in the constitution,” it said.