As South Africa ramps up its Covid-19 vaccination efforts, more businesses are likely to require that both their employees and customers are vaccinated, says Business Leadership South Africa chief executive Busi Mavuso.
Writing in her weekly open letter, Mavuso said the government should consider introducing Covid-19 vaccine incentives and a digital pass to achieve a vaccination rate of 70%-80% of adults.
While public policy can drive some vaccine incentives, she said the private sector also has a part to play.
“Many employers have led the charge in supporting employees to access vaccines. Some employers can make vaccination mandatory where their employees are exposed to the public – like restaurants – or work in close contact with each other.”
Businesses also have the right to control access, she said. “Just as they can insist employees who are exposed to the public are vaccinated, they can insist that customers who are exposed to their employees or each other are vaccinated.
“As the vaccine programme continues, I expect to see businesses becoming more strident in requiring vaccination both from their customers and employees.”
Mavuso said that she expects lots of ideological contestation around these measures.
“Those who refuse to be vaccinated may well proclaim that is their right, but it is also the right of the rest of us to protect ourselves from the risks posed by unvaccinated people and to do whatever we can to reach the overall vaccination rates necessary for life to go back to normal,” she said.
“Moving beyond all lockdown restrictions is one critical component to the wider effort to drive an economic recovery, one that is going to start to turn around the unemployment trend, reignite economic growth and start to heal the damaged financial position of the state.”
Government looking at mandatory vaccines
In a media briefing on Friday (27 August), health minister Joe Phaahla said that his department is discussing the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa.
Phaahla said that this is a matter that has been raised for official consideration, with the health department now discussing the conditions under which mandatory vaccines may be possible.
He said that no official determination has yet been made. Phaahla said that in his personal view, it is unlikely that the government will introduce an official regulation, which states that everyone must vaccinate.
However, he said it is possible that certain jobs such as the services sector and the entertainment sector could require mandatory vaccines.
Phaahla said that the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee is also looking at the possibility of booster doses for those who have received the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.