Sunday, January 16

South Africa Vaccine Mandates: Where Are They Most Needed?

the debate about mandatory vaccinations has reached a fever pitch as efforts to contain Covid-19 accelerate.

Compelling scientist, ethical and legal Arguments have been made as to whether or not people should be forced to get vaccinated. Some countries have already introduced mandates that require people to present proof of vaccination to access certain public places.

The debates are based on a realistic fear about the continued emergence of new variants in the context of large numbers of unvaccinated people, both in high-income countries and in low- and middle-income countries.

That fear became a reality on November 25, 2021 when South African scientists announced the new variant, to which the World Health Organization assigned the name of Omicron. This “variant of worry” threw the world to chaos – world markets crashed, travel restrictions were imposed in several southern African countries and health centers were on high alert.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently Announced that the government had created a task force to advise on vaccination mandates. In my opinion, this belated announcement, after three major waves of infection over 18 months and after more than 250,000 South African deaths, could be interpreted as a serious disregard for life, health, the healthcare system and the economy.

The late answer raises several questions: How effective would a vaccination mandate be at this late stage? And what should one look like if it gets going?

The private sector has already acted. Several employers and organizations have implemented vaccine mandates based on the guidelines of the Work Department. They have all had to conduct risk assessments and interact with employees and stakeholders.

Organizations that have introduced mandates include some of the largest in the country. universities such as the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of the Western Cape, while others such as the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are in the process of policy development and stakeholder engagement.

Vaccine mandates that have been successfully implemented have shown a marked increase in the status of employee vaccinations. The private health insurer Discovery Limited is one such example. Since a mandatory vaccination policy was introduced, acceptance of the vaccine among employees increased from 22% in September 2021 to 94% in November 2021.

Several countries have commands entered. These include France, Austria, Greece, the Netherlands, and the US.

The mandates were initially applied to healthcare workers who have an obligation to protect patients and colleagues from harm. Now, vaccine passes are also required to access museums, restaurants, bars, gyms, public transportation, and shopping centers.

In my opinion, there is a strong ethical argument that must be made. by a vaccine mandate. I agree with Jeffery Gerber and Paul Offit, pediatricians and epidemiologists who wrote in a editorial in science:

the option not to get vaccinated is not a risk-free option; rather it is an option to take a different and more serious risk …

What should the mandate of South Africa look like

To date, only 36.8% of South Africa’s adult population has been fully vaccinated – with a single dose of Johnson and Johnson or two doses of Pfizer. The goal was to cover 70% of the adult population by December 2021.

Clearly, the country has lagged far behind in this goal.

The key requirement of any mandate should be that a vaccination certificate be produced for access to high-risk public spaces where harm to other people may occur. These include:

  • entrance to all high-risk congregated environments. This would include gyms, restaurants, bars, night clubs, indoor business areas, theaters, conference rooms, hospitals, clinics, conferences, trade shows.
  • public and leisure transport: taxis, buses, trains, cruise ships and airplanes. Most international flights require a vaccination certificate and a negative PCR test. Domestic flights should have similar requirements because the risk is similar, especially when interprovincial travel can spread the virus from one province to another with low incidence. This risk proves it Omicron.

But mandatory vaccine policies must include exceptions, such as someone having a severe allergic reaction to the first dose of a vaccine or being allergic to a specific component of a vaccine.

However, the question of allowing religious objections is more difficult.

Most major religions have not specifically banned COVID-19 vaccines. On the contrary, many religious authorities have strongly supported COVID-19 vaccines. This is because religious teachings in general promote the sacrifice of personal freedoms for others, and vaccination to protect others can be seen as “An act of love”, a moral obligation and caring for others.

But religious groups have raised some arguments about aborted fetal cells. These were used decades ago to create “immortal” cell lines for research on vaccines and other drugs, as well as for many processed food additives. This was the case with the research involving Tylenol, Aspirin, Brufen, Benadryl, Zoloft, Azithromycin, among others. Current Vaccines for COVID-19 they do not contain aborted fetal cells.

Systematically applying an argument about aborted fetal cells used in drug development would require proponents to refuse to take a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that they have already been using for decades. Consistency it is an important principle for evaluating the honesty of religious objections. The objection must also be based on disagreement with a central tenet of that religion.

Objections to the mandates are presented using a human rights framework with some claims of individual freedoms. However, this approach is not relevant in the context of a pandemic where the public interest prevails over individual freedoms.


South Africa continues to grapple with the economic consequences of the pandemic, and further shocks are being felt in the tourism sector, in particular as a result of a new wave in the wake of the Omicron variant announcement.

This makes the question of a vaccination mandate even more urgent.

Omicron Clinical Reports suggest that vaccinated people are experiencing mild versions of the disease, while hospitalizations are predominantly from people who has not been vaccinated.

A vaccine mandate will accomplish a number of goals.

It will improve the absorption of the vaccine. Second, it will protect health and health systems. Third, it will allow the economy to recover and stay open. Fourth, tourists will be more inclined to visit countries with vaccination mandates because the countries will be perceived as safer. This will also result in economic growth. A win-win scenario.The conversation

Keymanthri moodley, Distinguished Professor of the Department of Medicine and Director of the Center for Ethics and Medical Law, Stellenbosch University

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the Original article.

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