To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question for South Africans

Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said the country would have to decide whether the unvaccinated and vaccinated could share the same public spaces.

Vaccinator at Moses Mabinde stadium in KwaZulu-Natal for COVID-19 vaccinations. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - South Africa will have to decide whether individual rights not to vaccinate, trump the collective rights of vaccinated people who go to public spaces.

That’s according to Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo who was answering questions in NCOP on Tuesday on vaccine mandates and readiness for the fourth wave.

Dhlomo said the department was prepared for the fourth wave as COVID infections increase.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said vaccine mandates were being considered to minimise serious illness and to ensure more people get inoculated.

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Dhlomo said the country would have to decide whether the unvaccinated and vaccinated could share the same public spaces.

“Maybe someday we are going to decide whether an individual right of Dr Dhlomo refusing to vaccinate is bigger or better than the collective right of the people he’s worshipping with in the church, the people he goes with to the malls and the people he goes to the stadium with. Let’s discuss as South Africans whether we should not say, 'good enough it’s your individual right to refuse to vaccinate, but please do stay at home.'"

In terms of readiness for the fourth wave, Dhlomo said provinces like the Gauteng epicentre were prepared with over 4,000 beds ready.

He said they were already meeting with oxygen suppliers to ensure there was no shortage at the peak of the wave.