Growing opposition over UCT proposal for mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations
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Cape Town – A petition against UCT introducing mandatory vaccinations is growing in signatures after its Senate voted in favour of a proposal to make vaccination mandatory from next year.
The motion obtained 183 votes (83%) in support of the policy and 32 against, with five people abstaining, is set to be considered by the UCT council, which has to make a final decision after stakeholder engagements.
Calling it ’’discrimination’’, Solidarity Youth has also threatened legal action against any university – before the UCT Senate vote – that makes Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory.
’’By introducing vaccine passes at these institutions, universities deprive certain students and prospective students of the right to receive education and it grants more rights to others based on those students' medical conditions.
’’This gross violation of rights cannot be permitted under any circumstances,’’ Solidarity said.
Support for a Petition Against UCT Senate Mandatory Vaccination Requirements on change.org – launched by the UCT Students and Staff Collective – has risen to over 12 000 by noon today. The petition argued some of the following points:
- Senate does not have the authority, in terms of the provisions of the Higher Education Act 101 of 1997 (HEA) as well as the related provisions in the UCT Institutional Statute, to make such binding recommendations to the UCT Council on matters that must otherwise be consulted widely within the university community, say via the Institutional Forum.
- Vaccine uptake (especially regarding vaccines that are only currently approved for emergency use) remains an individual decision, in line with the constitutional provisions.
- Even the possibility of mandatory testing of unvaccinated persons may be untenable and discriminatory given that none of the vaccines, currently under emergency use authorisation, are 100% effective and that it is accepted that vaccinated persons would still contract Covid-19.
- It is clear that under the present circumstances, the only viable option is for the University community to strongly and collectively promote voluntary uptake of vaccines via consistent, persuasive, and ethical messaging.
DA Student Organisation and UCT member Zukile Ntentema told News24: "Mandatory vaccines passed by the senate is concerning and could possibly be a violation of the Constitution when it comes to individual rights.
’’I believe in freedom of choice and, therefore, I don't believe in forcing people to take the vaccine. This decision could set a dangerous precedent for the future.’’
According to the proposed policy, the council should resolve, at its October 2021 meeting, or sooner, to institute a mandate from January 1, 2022 requiring all staff (as a condition of being able to perform their duties) and students (as a condition of registration) to provide acceptable proof of having been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.