Aspen Pharmacre chief executive Stephen Saad has backed a move by Discovery to introduce mandatory vaccinations for its staff members.
Discovery plans to move to a mandatory vaccination policy from 1 January 2022. In its annual results published on 2 September, the group said it had a ‘moral and legal obligation’ to introduce the policy.
Saad said while he was unsure of whether he can legally introduce a similar policy at Aspen, on a personal level, he felt Discovery had made the right move and that sometimes it was ‘better to be a leader than a follower’.
“If logic prevails, we really should all be vaccinated. Not being vaccinated causes two (issues) – you are putting yourself at risk and creating risk for others. I don’t think it’s fair.
“I am not sure of the legal implications that it can be or should be mandatory, (but) I completely subscribe to it.”
Saad said that, at the very least, those people who opt not to be vaccinated should be inconvenienced by getting tests every few days or once a week to show that they are Covid-19 negative.
Unvaccinated people should also be blocked from certain areas without masks on, he said.
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.
Health 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 had 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.