South Africa discussing mandatory vaccine policy: minister

A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Jabulani Mall Mobile Vaccination Site, in Soweto, South Africa, July 06, 2021, Papi Morake/Getty Images

As experts have raised concerns about vaccine hesitancy in South Africa, Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Friday said the government was considering mandatory vaccination policy.

A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Jabulani Mall Mobile Vaccination Site, in Soweto, South Africa on July 06, 2021. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

“A suggestion has been made by various influential people in society that we should consider a mandatory vaccination policy. This is a matter which we are very reluctant to venture into but it is a matter which we are discussing in various forums,” he said at a media briefing.

While no decision had been taken on the matter now, talks were underway.

“We are discussing under what conditions this might be possible, but in my view we don’t foresee a kind of regulation or some kind of national government regulation that says everybody must vaccinate,” he said, “But what is possible and what we consider is that where various service providers or areas of entertainment or where people obtain services or even workplaces… there is a possibility that a locally determined requirement can be (made).”

Following news that a booster shot might be beneficial for people who have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Phaahla said that discussions on a possible booster were taking place.

We have referred this to our vaccine Ministerial Advisory Committee to advise us but I must emphasise that our priority at this moment is to make sure that all South African adults, who are willing to get the vaccine, should get a dose as prescribed,” he said,

“At this stage, our priority is to make sure that we reach immunity population coverage.”

Chairperson of the South African Medical Association, Dr. Angelique Coetzee said many medical workers who received the Johnson jab in February this year were keen on getting a booster shot.

“Our members are asking for a booster shot, they want to know when they can get their booster shots,” she said.