South Africa

Mandatory vaccinations closer to reality at UCT as senate gives backing

Mandatory vaccinations closer to reality at UCT as senate gives backing

Plans to introduce mandatory Covid-19 vaccination among staff and students at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are one step closer after a resounding vote by the university's senate.

On Wednesday afternoon, the senate voted on a proposed policy to make vaccines mandatory from next year. About 83% of respondents are said to have voted in favour of the policy.

Scientist Prof Linda-Gail Bekker, who brought the motion before the senate, said that getting people vaccinated was key to getting students back on campus.

“Virtual teaching doesn’t work for everyone and, sadly, the students who are worst affected are those who already are disadvantaged. They don’t have easy alternatives such as quiet spaces, access to internet and library opportunities.

“Getting us all back [on campus] and working will assist productivity and get us back to near normal again. Vaccines are our passport to that,” she said.

University spokesperson Elijah Moholola said the final decision lay with the university's council, which will meet in October.

“After deliberations and discussions on a proposal on mandatory vaccination at a meeting held on Friday September 17, members of the University of Cape Town senate present at the meeting have voted on the matter. Senate, having considered this complex matter fully and taken into consideration a range of views at the meeting, proceeded to conduct voting on the matter via electronic ballot.

“The voting process was concluded on Wednesday, September 22, with the outcome being that the motion on mandatory vaccination has been adopted by senate, with 83% of respondents in the ballot indicating support,” Moholola said.

He said that the next step included an engagement process across campus with “all the relevant stakeholders, whose voices are key in this process”.

“UCT emphasises that no decision or position has been taken yet by the university on mandatory vaccination on campus. Any final decision will have to be a decision of the university council.”

Moholola said the university would provide updates on the matter.

“The university continues to encourage students and staff to get vaccinated,” he said.

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