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Your Covid-19 questions answered

Should government implement a vaccination requirement for public transport?

06 July 2022 - 07:00
Caprisa director and epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim has strongly advised that one key public health measure should be in place - a vaccination requirement for public transport.
Caprisa director and epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim has strongly advised that one key public health measure should be in place - a vaccination requirement for public transport.
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

Weeks after the government repealed all Covid-19 regulations, Caprisa director and epidemiologist Prof Salim Abdool Karim has strongly advised that one key public health measure be in place — a vaccination requirement to enter public transport and public indoor spaces.

Last month, health minister Joe Phaahla repealed Covid-19 regulations governing the use of face masks, limits on gatherings and a requirement that people leaving and coming to SA must produce full vaccination certificates.

In a government gazette, Phaahla repealed regulations relating to the surveillance and control of notifiable medical conditions in their entirety.

Abdool Karim said despite the country seeing a low number of Covid-19 cases, at least one measure should have been kept.

I remain concerned that SA’s vaccination coverage is still too low and feel strongly that our country should still have one key public health measure in place at this time – a vaccination requirement to enter public indoor spaces and public transport,” he said.

According to Abdool Karim, in the absence of an indoor mask mandate, SA needs to use vaccination as a way to reduce risk in indoor settings.

“To do this, everyone over the age of 12 years wishing to enter indoor public spaces or public transport, must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test result no older than 72 hours. The checking could be at the entrance just in the same way that sanitising was checked on entry. Instead of checking sanitising, the checking should now be for vaccination/test results.”

He suggested the vaccination proof be digital or a card similar to a driver’s licence.

“A negative test result can be either a PCR test or an antigen test. Outdoor sporting activities do not need this requirement but if the stadium has public indoor spaces as well, then the vaccination requirement should apply in the indoor spaces within the stadium.

I am concerned that vaccine uptake is going to reduce to a trickle soon - as the atmosphere in the country shifts gear to 'Covid is no more in SA' as many will interpret the dropping of all restrictions as the end of the pandemic.

The vaccination requirement will help to increase coverage and it can be dropped once SA has reached 70% vaccination coverage ie. when most people in indoor spaces will be vaccinated anyway.”

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