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‘Covid-19 vaccination is safe, does not affect women’s bodies negatively’ — experts

Medical and scientific bodies slam Commission for Gender Equality’s warning against imposing mandatory jabs

24 January 2022 - 08:40
Medical and scientific institutions have distanced themselves from the Commission for Gender Equality's statement 'Warning against imposing mandatory Covid-19 vaccination on employees and students'. File photo.
Medical and scientific institutions have distanced themselves from the Commission for Gender Equality's statement 'Warning against imposing mandatory Covid-19 vaccination on employees and students'. File photo.
Image: Waldo Swiegers

Medical and scientific bodies have called for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) to withdraw its warning against imposing mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations on female workers and students, saying such an influential body could “unknowingly or otherwise” fuel anti-vaccination sentiment.

On January 16 the CGE i said it noted a new study published in the Obstetrics & Gynaecology medical journal that suggests vaccines may cause a small change to the menstrual cycle length, but this change is temporary.

The CGE said: “While health experts believe this finding is not clinically significant, the commission would like to caution businesses and institutions against forcing employees to vaccinate and imposing harsh sanctions on them if they do not.”

It warned that mandatory vaccination mandates did not supersede the constitution and called on tertiary institutions not to impose vaccine mandates on students and employees.

“When scientists establish a connection between Covid-19 vaccinations and women’s reproductive health, such as menstrual cycles, many women may not be comfortable taking vaccines due to possible long-term effects. These women’s wish to delay vaccinating should be respected in the context of our country’s human rights commitment,” said the CGE.

The SA Medical Research Council, SA Medical Association, South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Section 27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, among others, issued a joint call on Sunday night for the CGE to withdraw its “ill-advised statement”.

They said they were concerned that a Chapter 9 institution like the CGE “which wields enormous influence in society, may, unknowingly or otherwise, fuel anti-vaccination sentiment and compromise the national vaccination programme”.

“Vaccine mandates are the subject of deep scrutiny by a range of institutions and sectors. The constitutionality of mandates is being legally examined as well.

“We therefore take issue with the commission trying to bolster its argument by wrongly insinuating Covid-19 vaccination has the potential to harm women’s health.

“While the commission is at liberty to express itself on the matter of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination and how this may impinge on constitutional rights, it should, as a responsible and respected public institution, confine itself to the known scientific facts of the effects of vaccination and should not conflate selective scientific references with its position on vaccine mandates.

“By misinterpreting the medical consequences of a slight lengthening of the menstrual cycles in a very small number of women following vaccination, among the billions of women who have been vaccinated worldwide, the commission’s statement inappropriately creates confusion and fear in the minds of women who have been vaccinated and is likely to increase vaccine hesitancy among women.”

They accused the commission of disregarding “the fact that pregnant women (and their unborn babies) are at a much greater risk of dying if they are unvaccinated.

One-in-six unvaccinated pregnant women admitted to hospital in SA with Covid-19 infection requires mechanical ventilation

“It fails to appreciate that one-in-six unvaccinated pregnant women admitted to hospital in SA with Covid-19 infection requires mechanical ventilation and one in 16 has a fatal outcome.

“Covid-19 vaccination, on the other hand, provides upwards of 80% protection against severe disease, hospitalisation and death.

“The evidence is indisputable. Covid-19 vaccination is safe, does not affect women’s bodies negatively and saves women’s lives.

“The commission’s assertion that Covid-19 vaccinations could have long-term harmful effects on reproductive and sexual health, in the absence of medical evidence to support such a contention, is, accordingly, strenuously repudiated,” the bodies said.

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