Something many people have been wondering about, is whether or not the government could make it compulsory for us to take the Covid-vaccine.
To answer this, we need to start with our country’s Constitution, the cornerstone of our law. South Africans all have the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which on face value should mean that the vaccine should remain each South African’s own choice. This right, however, is an individual right, but we also have collective rights to take into account. We know that some people suffer a lot more from Covid-19 than others. Thus, choosing to not vaccinate yourself may be costly for other people in the community.
Naturally there are many different opinions when it comes to a hot topic such as this, one of which is that of the University of Oxford ethicist Alberto Giubilini, who suggests that the vaccine should be compulsory because it would be less burdensome to everyone than the current lockdowns which are in place all over the world.
Then there are also various misconceptions and conspiracy theories muddying the issue, such as the talk of so-called “microchips” in the vaccine and even of its rumoured ability to “alter one’s DNA”. In my opinion, it would then be a better idea to focus on improving and increasing education and the dissemination of proper, accurate and verified information on Covid-vaccines to thereby eradicate these falsities, rather than making it mandatory to get immunised against the virus -which may come across as somewhat suspicious to some and simply increase people’s resistance against getting vaccinated.
It is one matter to decide for yourself, but in some instances, employers may make it compulsory for their employees to be vaccinated. Certain countries may also make it a requirement before entry for travellers. Would this be allowed? Well, these are not new concepts. In the medical profession for example Hepatitis B injections are compulsory. Yellow fever vaccines are also compulsory to be allowed entry to certain countries. In this instance I feel it is necessary to consider the ultimate goal behind the vaccine, which is to protect and save lives. It is precisely this protection of the collective right of a community which will probably outweigh the rights of the individual.
So, what can we take from this? It can possibly become a requirement in the workplace or for travelling purposes. Your own medical aid may well also make the vaccine a requirement since preventing their members from getting infected, could potentially save them quite a lot on hospital expenses. Yet it is unlikely that the government can make it compulsory for us as South Africans to take the Covid-19 vaccine.