Healthcare workers will not be forced to take vaccine, says legal expert

Tanya Muller

ASAIPA says that while the AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out to doctors and healthcare workers, no one will be forced to take it.

As medical doctors and healthcare workers, which includes administrative personnel in the health industry, are about to receive the first jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccine, no one will be forced to take it.

This was according to the chief operating officer and legal advisor of the Alliance of South Africa Independent Practitioners Association (ASAIPA), Tanya Muller. Her remarks come amid uncertainty whether the government can handle such an ambitious project after reports of vaccine having gone to waste because of a cooler door that was left open.

Last week, health minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize announced a bilateral agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for the first batch of doses for frontline health workers.

According to Mkhize, South Africa will be receiving one million doses in January. The expectation was that it would arrive before the end of the month. Another batch of 500 000 doses will arrive in February. Last year, SII sought emergency approval for the vaccine developed with AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca had signed an agreement with SII to produce one billion doses of its experimental vaccine for low- and middle-income countries. Mkhize’s announcement came after uncertainty regarding the absence of a vaccine, and an apparent lack of negotiating the most beneficial deal for South Africans with reports of orders not being made in time and losing out on cheaper deals for the vaccine.

But despite all the uncertainty there is a good story to tell, said Muller. Muller said the vaccine would be rolled out in three phases.

The first phase is a roll-out to healthcare workers in the public and private sector as well as supporting staff. In the second phase, high-risk areas will be identified and in the third phase it will be rolled out to the general public.


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