Efforts to combat South Africa's COVID vaccine hesitancy to be ramped up

The Health Department said government was exploring different ways of ramping up its vaccination drive.

A woman receives a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine from a healthcare worker at the Zwartkops Raceway in Centurion on 13 August 2021. Picture: Phill Magakoe/AFP

JOHANNESBURG - More than 13 364 000 vaccines have been administered in South Africa so far with more vaccination sites expected to open across the country this weekend.

READ: South Africa records over 9,000 new COVID infections

The Health Department said government was exploring different ways of ramping up its vaccination drive now that all adults were eligible to get their jabs.

The Western Cape government has been running various campaigns to address vaccine hesitancy that has emerged in parts of the province.

On Friday, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde briefed that province’s legislature on various initiatives to stop misinformation about the vaccines.

He said some of the steps they had taken included communication campaigns consisting of information on COVID-19 and the vaccines.

NORTH WEST GETS INFLUENCER

READ: Mokgoro's refusal to give up NW legislature seat complicates

The government in the North West has taken the influencer route in a bid to improve vaccine numbers.

It announced medical doctor and model Thato Mosehle as their vaccine influencer with acting premier Motlalepule Rosho saying she hoped this move would help reach more young people.

With a target of 2.7 million people to vaccinate by the end of the year the province had so far administered around 700,000 jabs. More than 3,000 people in the province have died since the start of the pandemic.

MANDATORY VACCINATIONS

Meanwhile, labour experts and trade unionists said a legal test case for mandatory vaccination in South Africa could be good and bad for the country.

READ: Discovery's decision to enforce mandatory COVID vaccination described as bold

Medical aid scheme and financial services provider Discovery has taken the decision to enforce a policy compelling staff to vaccinate or have a solid reason not to.

Labour market participants said getting to a clear directive on how the issue should be broached would not be easy.

With Discovery’s announcement labour market players voiced concerns about the possible implications.

They all agreed, though, that a legal test case would not offer the clarity expected.

Labour law expert Tony Healy said, “There are thousands and thousands of jobs and vocations and thousands of different work environments and what might be justifiable and reasonable in a particular job type in a particular working environment may be different for people with the same job title in a different work environment.”

The Employment and Labour Department stated in a June directive that key principles of the guidelines on the workplace and vaccination was that employers and employees should treat each other with mutual respect.

They emphasised that a premium was placed on public health imperatives, the constitutional rights of employees and efficient operation of business.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.