Cape Town – Deputy Health Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says the fight against the new variant Omicron continues and that government was looking into mandatory vaccination.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced at the weekend that a task team had been set up to look at mandatory vaccination.
Dhlomo, who was part of the social cluster of ministers answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday, said they want to ramp up the vaccination programme.
He said so far about 25 million vaccine doses had been administered. This translates to 41% of the population who have been vaccinated.
The government had previously said it wanted to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year.
He said the issue of mandatory vaccination was on the cards.
“We are saying as the President said two days ago, maybe some day we are going to decide whether an individual right of Dr Dhlomo refusing to vaccinate is bigger than the collective right of the people he is worshipping within the church, the people that he goes with to the malls or the people he goes to the stadium with, to say maybe we are going to consider let us discuss as South Africans, good enough it's your individual right to refuse to vaccinate, but do stay at home and not with us when we are in the taxi, in the stadium or in the church because we would want to be protected,” said Dhlomo.
However, Dhlomo said they still needed to get as many people as possible to be vaccinated.
He said if people were vaccinated this could protect them against Omicron.
Senior health officials and scientists also said this week most of the people who were hospitalised had not been vaccinated.
Dhlomo said plans were also afoot to deal with the rise in infections during the festive break.
He said some of the provinces were struggling, but there was infrastructure that was not dismantled to deal with the fourth wave.
“Scientists are advising us that if we are vaccinated, this fourth wave will not be as severe as the previous waves,” said Dhlomo.