Financial services firm Discovery plans to move to a mandatory vaccination policy from 1 January 2022. In its annual results published on 2 September, the group said that it had a moral and legal obligation to introduce the policy.
Discovery currently employs 12,950 employees across its key healthcare, banking and financial businesses.
“Discovery intends to move to a mandatory vaccination policy effective 1 January 2022 given the clear moral and social obligation, as informed by our core purpose to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives,” it said.
The move is also guided by its values, it said, “acting as a force for social good, and supported by a legal obligation to protect and safeguard all employees from all potential risks.”
Private businesses are permitted to introduce their own vaccination policies, and the government is now looking at options to make mandatory vaccination national policy on some level.
Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday (27 August) that the Department of Health is considering its options, and receiving legal advice on the issue.
Phaahla said that mandatory vaccinations have been raised for official consideration, with the health department discussing the conditions under which mandatory vaccines may be possible.
Phaahla said that, in his personal view, it is unlikely that an official regulation will be introduced 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.
The health minister has also alluded to additional restrictions on South Africans who have not been vaccinated. This could include limiting the use of public amenities. The Department of Labour and Employment has already given directives allowing employers to decide on whether to make vaccination a requirement, he said.
“The opinion we are getting from legal people, that once there is sufficient coverage, we should be able to arrive at the stage where we can actually make demands even at public amenities,” Phaahla said.
“You can’t have your cake and eat it. You have the right not to have a vaccination, but you have no right to endanger the lives of other people.”
On Wednesday (1 September), South Africa reported 9,544 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,787,203.
Deaths have reached 82,496 (+235), while recoveries have climbed to 2,560,605, leaving the country with a balance of 144,102 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 12,841,537 (+273,012).