Mandatory vaccination offers no real solution to vaccine hesitancy.
Socialists everywhere in the world support vaccination against the COVID-19 virus. We are in total support and encourage people to vaccinate against the COVID-19 virus. Vaccination although not 100% effective has conclusively shown to protect people from the worst effects of the virus. However, vaccination as a protection does not preclude the need for safe distancing from others and adequate ventilation or the necessity for wearing masks. In the recent 4th wave in the country, some 90% of those who succumbed to the virus were unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated.
At the end of January 2022, South Africa had just managed to have 50% of its population vaccinated, yet already some institutions are insisting on mandatory vaccination before being allowed into a workplace or place of learning. That said, although we support vaccination and believe that every single one of us must be vaccinated. That does not imply that we agree with mandatory vaccination as a solution to reach herd immunity.
We are getting now the division in society between those who are vaccinated and those who are not. New mandatory rules do not really protect people. They are intended to deflect anger away from our ruler’s failure to protect the poor and the working people against the pandemic.
Recently in a labour court case, the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) has ruled that the dismissal of an employee for refusing to be vaccinated was valid.
This passes the buck from employer to employee. For many, this case defeat meant that it is yet again, the case of the bosses using coercive force to those lower down in the scale of life to do as they are told.
The threat to people that, they may lose their very livelihoods by being fired if they don’t want to be injected doesn’t address reasons; why some workers have so far avoided vaccination.
There can be many reasons that a person does not want to be vaccinated; these have to be addressed through persuasion dialogue, encouragement and examples, not by force.
Force not only plays into the hands of the right-wing, but it also alienates people with genuine concerns about being vaccinated. In South Africa, there are still many people wary of western medical solutions and others are influenced by misinformation spread on social media. Many young adults “believe that vaccinations will affect their fertility.” The uptake by young adults in this country was only some 25% by November 2021 and this paints a gruesome picture.
Dismissal for refusing to be vaccinated passes the buck from the system of capitalism which is responsible in the first place for the emergence of the virus onto the individual.
The transmission of the COVID-19 virus- now we know, is when “people breathe in air contaminated by droplets and small airborne particles.”
For the employer insisting on mandatory vaccination; it can be a camouflaged excuse for relaxing on safety precautions at work, like adequate ventilation and safe distancing in the workplace. It also excuses the boss from making the leave payment for isolation if a person is infected.
For some, after receiving the injection means they need to be off work for some time. Side-effects are normal and vary amongst individuals. Some people might experience mild side effects while others might experience severe side effects. Why do the bosses not say “well it’s good you have had the vaccination, take as much paid leave time off work that you need to recuperate from any effects that you may feel.” Taking time off from work after receiving the injection to recuperate must be mandatory and paid as well.
At the same time it is now known that a small percentage of fully vaccinated people will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. These are called vaccine breakthrough infections. People with vaccine breakthrough infections may spread COVID-19 to others. This means that mandates are also not the protection to others that the bosses boast about.
The universities management in South Africa also wants to have mandatory vaccination before a student may enter their premises. This once again re-enforces the apartheid between those that have and those that don’t. Much the same as what we now see in South Africa with the growth of the walled off estates in which the privileged live. The movement against mandates must be supported, we want to see people vaccinated, but not by force. We want to see the vaccination strategy built from below, by people employed at the forefront of it to come from the working class and their communities, people that can patiently explain and give confidence to those who are hesitant to be vaccinated. Another press briefing from above or another rule in the hands of the government or the bosses offers us no real protection from the virus.