NURSES at the Tygerberg Hospital vaccinate a staff member with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccination. Picture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)
NURSES at the Tygerberg Hospital vaccinate a staff member with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccination. Picture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)

Civil servants who choose not to be vaccinated may return to work, says KZN government

By Xolile Bhengu Time of article published Jul 19, 2021

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DURBAN: The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has dismissed reports that unvaccinated teachers will not be returning to schools when they open next week.

This comes after rumours surfaced, at different vaccination sites across KZN, that teachers who had not been vaccinated would not be allowed to return to schools.

Sadtu KZN secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said: “It is not true that teachers cannot come back to schools when they reopen.”

She said, two weeks ago, teachers who presented themselves for the marking of Grade 12 supplementary papers were given a form that asked if they had been vaccinated.

“We only wanted to know who has been vaccinated to support the national rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, and it would not have infringed their right to enter the premises.

“We have an advocacy programme in place to encourage people to vaccinate, but we don’t want any rumours that if someone chooses not to vaccinate, they cannot enter school premises,” she said.

Caluza added that whether teachers were vaccinated or not, they would still have to adhere to non-pharmaceutical guidelines of wearing a mask, social distancing, and sanitising – until it was announced, nationally, to be safe.

“We would encourage anyone that has been discriminated against, for not taking a vaccine, to report the matter to the union,” she urged.

Spokesperson in the premier’s office, Lennox Mabaso, insisted that no one could be forced to take the Covid-19 vaccine and no one can be discriminated against if they decide not to be vaccinated.

“Forcing someone to take the Covid-19 vaccine would be a violation of regulations, and must be reported. As much, as a province, we are promoting the achievement for herd immunity and saving lives, it is still voluntary,” he said.

Mabaso said both the provincial and national government encourages anyone who has reservations about the current Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme to seek medical advice to make an informed decision.

“We have tried, as a government, to ensure that information is readily available for anyone, in all official languages. All procedures that are being followed at vaccine sites are based on international best practice principles. We are also gaining experience daily in the process. Individuals also have to be honest with the health care professionals when they are asked questions during the screening process, to minimise their risk for choosing to participate and to avoid causing unwanted health complications,” he said.

Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Witwatersrand, Shabir Madhi, echoed the sentiments that no one could be forced to vaccinate.

“It would be foul of the constitutional right to freedom. Also, it can backfire in increasing vaccine hesitancy, if it is made mandatory. However, it could be possible to make it compulsory under specific conditions – for example, it can be a workplace requirement for health care workers,” said Madhi.

Schools are set to open on Monday, July 26.

THE MERCURY

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