‘A pandemic of the unvaccinated’: Calls for mandatory jabs grow

The emergence of the Omicron variant has made the calls even louder because of its rapid transmissibly.

A vaccinator preparing the COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - While the nation waits to hear how the government plans to deal with the issue of mandatory vaccines against COVID-19, more leaders in medicine and business say this should be urgently considered.

The emergence of the Omicron variant has made the calls even louder because of its rapid transmissibly.

Business, labour and community partners have submitted proposals for mandatory jabs to the National Economic Development and Labour Council, and last Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that he would communicate government’s decision in a week.

Reluctant to introduce a hard lockdown, Ramaphosa decided to keep the nation on level one of lockdown, but a task team has been looking at the pros and cons around the introduction of mandatory vaccines - given the rising new infections driven by the new variant.

The South African Medical Research Council’s vice chairperson, Dr Mvuyisi Mzukwa, on Sunday said the government had been slow to outline and legislate mandatory inoculations – while hospital admissions had been largely dominated by the unvaccinated.

“We support the issue for mandatory vaccinations and we believe it’s becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated now. They need to do whatever is possible to make sure there are no hazards in the workplace.”

Following repeated lockdowns that have crippled the economy, the business sector in particular is calling for a more targeted approach.

Several private companies have already implemented mandatory vaccine policies. So have institutions of higher learning including Wits University, the University of the Free State and the University of Johannesburg.