The Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism recently published an article explaining that making the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory does not have to infringe on the rights of citizens.
In the piece titled 'COVID vaccine mandates don’t have to undermine your rights. Here’s why' by Safura Abdool Karim explained that the government could potentially use two laws to make vaccines mandatory.
The first argues that under the state of disaster regulations, the government can compel a person to have a Covid-19 test done and can be ordered to self-isolate if they test positive. Karim believes that this could be extended to Covid-19 vaccines.
The second relates to the Notifiable Medical Conditions Regulations which says healthcare workers would be allowed to administer a vaccine even if a person refuses to accept it. The action would however have to be justified by a court.
Karim explained that measures used to control the spread of Covid-19 have limited rights enshrined in South Africa’s constitution. These rights that have been limited included the right to freedom of religion and the right to freedom of movement. She says that the provisions can only be used on a case by case basis.
She said, “they apply to individuals so it cannot be used to say at a population level everybody between the ages of this and this must be sorry must be vaccinated it only works on a case-by-case basis where somebody has been identified specifically as needing to take the vaccine is refusing to do so then these provisions can be used to compel that person to be vaccinated”.
Karim explains that current laws do not allow for a blanket vaccination scheme. She does note that private companies, as well as countries, are putting in restrictions that would limit the movement of unvaccinated individuals.
Only time will tell if Covid-19 vaccinations will become mandatory in South Africa.