No forced vaccinations for learners

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No learners would be forced to take the Covid-19 vaccine, the Department of Education has said.

Pretoria Rekord reports, spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said learners would still reserve their right to refuse treatment. “No one will be forced to take the vaccine.”

Mhlanga was responding to questions posed by civil rights organisation AfriForum. This follows a media statement that stated that parents and guardians of learners would be forced to register as part of the health department’s planned vaccination programme.

“The registration referred to in the media release is that of the Department of Health for Covid-19 vaccination.

“All the Covid vaccinations are led by the Department of Health and, in general, all vaccinations are voluntary,” he said.

He added that registration was also important to determine the level of demand and inform the planning and resource allocation.

Mhlanga said that the registration would also track coverage as part of monitoring and reporting which was currently being managed by the health department.

Meanwhile, AfriForum’s education rights manager Natasha Venter said they welcomed the department’s response as they maintained the point of view that it was every person’s choice to decide whether or not they wanted their children to receive the vaccine.

“We will continue to fulfil our role as a civil rights watchdog by ensuring that the government will in no way attempt to enforce compelled vaccination.”

In a fact sheet issued by the health department about the Sisonke vaccine programme, the department explained that the vaccine trained a person’s immune system to fight the virus which caused Covid-19 after vaccination.

“People often develop some mild side-effects like tenderness at the injection site, feeling unwell, feverish and a headache for a few days.”

The fact sheet explained that the side-effects were positive signs that the body was mounting an immune response to the deadly virus.

“The technical term for this is reactogenicity.”

The fact sheet further explained that protection started around 10-14 days after the vaccination and even as early as seven days for severe disease.

“Protection rises to good levels around a month after vaccination,” he said.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only Covid-19 vaccine that only used a single dose while the other vaccines required two doses.

Pretoria Rekord / Keitumetse Maako