More businesses consider mandatory vaccines as fourth Covid wave threatens South Africa’s summer holiday

The need for mandatory vaccination is gaining a wider appeal as businesses are pinning their hopes of getting back to normal once herd immunity is achieved, says the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

Importantly, this would help marginally restore their operations and resuscitate the ailing economy, the group said.

Recently, the Covid-19 Command Council announced that the country is facing the possibility of a fourth wave by the end of this year. This would follow a similar pattern seen in 2020, when high mobility between provinces and more frequent gatherings over the summer break led to a spike in infections.

Considering the effects of the past lockdowns on the tourism, hospitality and entertainment industries, the projected fourth wave would potentially cause irreparable harm to sectors that have not fully recovered from the impact of the first lockdown, the business chamber said.

This poses a threat of further job losses as many businesses in these sectors would not sustain themselves.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Denise van Huyssteen said vaccinations were key to getting the local economy started again.

“As organised business, we are very concerned at the current pace of the vaccination process. It is vital that this is accelerated in order to support economic recovery and, in particular, for the revival of those sectors which Covid-19 constraints have most impacted.

“A vaccination rate of at least 67% needs to be achieved in order to achieve herd immunity in Nelson Mandela Bay,” she said.

Van Huyssteen that while a risk assessment should precede making vaccinations compulsory, the chamber felt strongly that vaccinations are key to enabling economic recovery efforts.

“We recognise the freedoms of individuals relating to vaccinations, but urge that facts be used as the basis for decision-making and not random commentary shared on social media sites.”

“Given the scientific evidence provided to date, on the whole, it appears that vaccines are our most effective defence against Covid-19 and as such should be widely deployed to enable economic activity to fully resume.”

Fourth wave

South Africa’s vaccination efforts will be a key factor in limiting a potential fourth wave of Covid-19 infections at the end of 2021, says president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Responding in an oral Q&A in parliament on 3 September, the president said that getting vaccinated was key to restarting normal activities in the country.

“Getting vaccinated is not only a personal choice about protecting yourself from infection. It is also about protecting others, including your family, friends and co-workers, and allowing the whole of society to return to normal activity more quickly.

“If we can vaccinate a large enough proportion of our population – particularly the adult population – by December, we can avoid another devastating wave of infections and restrictions on the economy,” he said.

Ramaphosa said that those who refuse to be vaccinated increase the risks for others – not only of a further resurgence of infections but of prolonged economic hardship and lack of recovery.

“We, therefore, all have a responsibility to encourage all South Africans over the age of 18 to go to their nearest vaccination site today to protect themselves, to protect others and to help all of us get our economy back on track.

“Above all, vaccines are free in our country, they are safe, and they are effective.” Despite the push for vaccinations, Ramaphosa said that no one should be forced to be vaccinated.

Read: Discovery to introduce mandatory vaccine policy

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More businesses consider mandatory vaccines as fourth Covid wave threatens South Africa’s summer holiday