Cape Town – Health Minister Joe Phaahla, says the government is reluctant to implement a mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policy.
In his weekly media briefings, Phaahla said suggestions have been made by a number of influential people that the government should consider a mandatory vaccine policy.
Phaahla said: “This is a matter which we are very reluctant to venture into but it is a matter which we are discussing at various forums to see whether this is an option. At this stage, it's just a suggestion which we are looking at.”
He said that he doesn’t foresee a kind of national government regulation which will force everyone to get vaccinated.
“We wouldn’t really want to go that route but what is possible and where we would consider it is where people receive particular services like restaurants, cinemas, gyms and so on but we don’t foresee where it could be a regulation.
The minister said he was also concerned that the country might have to grapple with a fourth wave in November, possibly driven by a new variant of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, infectious disease expert and former chairperson of the government’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says a mandatory vaccine policy is critical to ensure that people are healthy and safe and can return to employment and other activities as soon as possible.
“One unvaccinated person poses a risk to the rest of the world, it can’t be a matter of choice, it has to be for the public good that there’s a vaccine mandate, vaccines need to be mandated that’s required,” he said.
According to Karim those who could not be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons, have to be tested at least once a week in order to ensure that they were not putting everyone at risk.