JONATHAN JANSEN | Get them jabbed and back on campus, for all our sakes
Higher education leaders must act quickly and decisively on vaccine mandate
“None.” That was the crisp response of SA’s well-known television judge in response to my late-night email question: “Is there anything in SA law that prevents mandatory vaccination?” So why don’t we simply make vaccines mandatory? Ethics perhaps. That something is legally permissible does not mean it is ethical — that measure of right and wrong in a society. A young democracy should be particularly conscious about forcing public policy on individuals, given we just had three centuries of racialised policies imposed on citizens for everything from where you could live to where you would be buried.
I suspect though, that the main reason for official hesitancy about mandates is the potential political fallout. The DA leader has already launched a pre-emptive strike: “We need to be careful when we start to talk about mandatory vaccination; I think it gets people’s backs up. I don’t think it’s constitutional either; there’s the right to bodily integrity, it’s enshrined in the constitution. Anybody who doesn’t want to be vaccinated, well, that’s their personal choice.” As already indicated, you can throw the constitutional argument in the dirt bin. And what is this nonsense about “bodily integrity”? Does that mean that when a parent takes their child for potentially life-saving vaccinations against chickenpox, mumps, measles, rubella and polio that they face a great moral quandary about “bodily integrity”? We really need to raise the level of debate about vaccinations...