Mkhize: People won’t be compelled to get Covid-19 vaccines, but it’s adviseable
Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has moved to allay fears that South Africans would be compelled to get vaccinated, but said that it was important that people were encouraged to understand the necessity of getting the jab.
Mkhize and his advisers in the National Department of Health were speaking during a virtual meeting on Friday detailing the vaccination rollout plan of the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines during two phases beginning on May 17 and on October 17.
Fears around compulsory vaccination at the workplace were raised by Cosatu’s Matthew Parks who said that they were concerned that if workers do not get vaccinated they would not be allowed to work and they could be dismissed.
“We are very wary of taking an approach which raises the issue of dismissals. We want an approach that says ‘let’s embrace the vaccine, let’s mobilise, educate and encourage people to support it’.
“We are fearful of making it a dismissable offence because it becomes an unnecessary fight, not that we want to give comfort for people who want to engage in vaccine denialism but we want to look at an approach more like the one which we embrace for the masks,” Parks said.
However, Mkhize said that there would be no compulsory vaccination of any members of the public.
“From the Department of Health we don’t support [compulsory] vaccination, we believe that we must motivate people. People should be able to understand that it’s for their own benefit that they get vaccinated, not that it must be under pressure.
“There will also be a record of vaccination so that someone is able to prove that they have been vaccinated, but we don’t expect that to be used as a way of deciding who gets dismissed and who doesn’t,” Mkhize said.
Dr. Lesley Bamford, chief director of the Department of Health, also echoed Mkhize saying that the department did not support mandatory vaccination, saying that this had been the position of the National Advisory Group on Immunisation, which advises the department on issues related to vaccination.