You have the right to not vaccinate – but you don’t have the right to endanger other people: health minister

 ·1 Sep 2021

South Africa may limit the use of public amenities to the people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19, the country’s health minister said.

While a decision hasn’t been taken it is being discussed by the government, Joe Phaahla, the minister, said in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday (31 August).

The Department of Labour and Employment has already given directives allowing employers to make the decision 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,” he said.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it. You have the right to not have a vaccination, but you have no right to endanger the lives of other people.”

So far about six million of the country’s about 40 million adults have been fully vaccinated.

Mandatory vaccines 

Phaahla has previously said that his department is discussing the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa.

Addressing media on Friday (27 August), 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 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.

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.

With further reporting by Bloomberg.

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