South Africa will need to consider mandatory vaccinations and incentives in the coming months: business group

 ·6 Oct 2021

South Africa’s first ‘Vooma Vaccination’ weekend set an ambitious target of vaccinating 500,000 people, and while it only achieved around 350,000 jabs, it represented a significant increase for weekend figures and included an encouraging number of first jabs, says Martin Kingston, chair of Business for South Africa’s steering committee.

However, Kingston said that businesses will need to take further steps in the coming months to meet its lofty goal of vaccinating 70% of the adult population by December.

“In the coming weeks and months, every business, in concert with unions and other stakeholders, will need to continue working on getting people the information they need to vaccinate and lower any remaining barriers to vaccination.

“These include time off to vaccinate and offering support with travel challenges. In addition to communication and mobilisation, additional mechanisms that South Africa will need to consider will include mandatory vaccination where appropriate and even incentives for vaccination.”

Kingston said that there is a clear need for all of society to partner at a local, regional and national level to reach unvaccinated people wherever they are. He said that the strides made and lessons learnt this weekend would make similar drives even more successful in the future.

“What is clear is that it’s going to take ordinary people – all of us, in our capacity as family members, friends, colleagues and broader community members – to play an active role in informing and convincing the unvaccinated to go and get their jabs.”

Financial services group Discovery has said that it will make vaccinations mandatory for all employees by 2022. This policy will extend to all of the group’s properties across South Africa. Private school network Curro has also taken a similar stance around vaccines.

Naspers, South Africa’s largest company by market cap, has also indicated that it could introduce mandatory vaccinations for its staff.

PSG Group chief executive officer Piet Mouton recently penned an open letter calling for those who refuse to get vaccinated to be restricted from public spaces and private businesses that have adopted mandatory vaccination policies. This includes restaurants, public parks, shopping centres, airports, companies, educational institutions, etc.

While the government has not detailed any specific incentives it plans to use to get South Africans vaccinated, the South African Football Association (SAFA) said this week that it will give free stadium entry to watch the national team play World Cup qualifiers to people who are vaccinated.

Vaccination certificate 

On Tuesday (5 October), the Department of Health soft-launched its Covid-19 vaccine certificate portal, allowing users to create a QR code showing their Covid-19 vaccination status.

The passport is currently only available to people fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with users required to fill in their contact details, including their ID number and Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) code.

It is unclear how the certificate will be used at this stage, with similar certificates in other countries used for travel, tourism, and event purposes.

Read: South Africa launches digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate – how it works.

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