No jab, no consult: Mpumalanga doctor's stance sees unvaccinated patients inoculating against Covid-19

Dr Tafara Machiri of Mbombela in Mpumalanga says 43 out 51 patients who were refusing to be vaccinated have now gone for their jabs

08 September 2021 - 12:27
The notice at the practice of Dr Tafara Machiri, informing his patients that he would no longer be seeing unvaccinated patients.
The notice at the practice of Dr Tafara Machiri, informing his patients that he would no longer be seeing unvaccinated patients.
Image: Supplied

“I was tired of seeing my patients die, that’s why I came up with that notice.” These are the words of Dr Tafara Machiri of Mbombela in Mpumalanga, who displayed a notice at his practice that he would no longer be seeing unvaccinated patients.

“After seeing about five patients die due to Covid-19-related complications between June and August, all of whom were unvaccinated and were eligible to receive the vaccine, I told myself that I need to do something,” he said.

After failing to convince the majority of his patients to get the vaccine, the doctor said he realised that he needed to come up with a plan that would motivate them to get vaccinated.

A notice to his patients, informing them that he would no longer be seeing unvaccinated patients, seemed like the way to go. And the results were better than he had hoped for.

He said the message was meant for his small community of patients, who are like family to him, and not for the rest of SA. “Someone naughty took a picture and sent it out on WhatsApp and it has since gone viral and is all over social media,” he said.

Since putting up the notice three weeks ago, Machiri said 43 of the 51 patients who were refusing to be vaccinated have gone to get their jabs.

“I’ve achieved beyond what I ever thought in my wildest dreams. They are not patients, they are my friends. I’ve known them for more than 20 years. They are all in their late 50s and early 60s.”

Machiri said more individuals should devise tactics similar to this to encourage people to get vaccinated.

“If you have a brother or sister who is refusing to vaccinate, come up with something that will push them to get it,” he said.

Machiri said the deaths of his patients took a toll on him.

“They were refusing to get vaccinated and giving me a headache. I started losing people that I have known for so long. It affects you also as an individual and not a doctor only, as a human being. I’ve built a very strong relationship with most of them. Some of them even come to me with problems that have nothing to do with their health.

“We help each other in ways no-one can ever imagine. We have become like a fraternity of friends. They are not just my patients. So to lose them to a virus when they can prevent severe illness, hospitalisation and possible death by just getting one injection [J&J], two at most [Pfizer], was not acceptable. I could not understand their logic,” he said.

Machiri, responding to social media critics of his decision, said: “What I wanted to achieve, I achieved it beyond my wildest dreams. The rest is secondary.”  

His patients, he said, “have so many issues that we have gone through together over these 25 years. If I have to write summaries for them to other physicians, it would have been extremely uncomfortable to do that. That’s why some of them ended up vaccinating and that’s what I wanted.” 

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