Some universities across the country are contemplating mandatory vaccinations for staff and students as well as having those who refuse to undergo testing on a weekly basis.
CEO of Higher Health, Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia says that it is unfortunate that there is this much skepticism around Covid-19, as it is a fatal disease that should also be considered an occupational health risk.
He says that this is more so the case in environments where students congregate, such as accommodation residences and classrooms.
When the science clarifies that once you are vaccinated, what the vaccine will do is that it will increase your immunity to a level that even if the virus enters your body, your viral load can overcome it very quickly. This will also make it less likely to transfer the virus to the next person.
He also points out that although it may be too early to raise the question around mandatory vaccines, having a policy against occupational health risks allows the employer to safeguard employees.
Higher Health is also of the view that the implementation of regulations on vaccinations should take a phased approach. This would mean looking at students who are more at risk, such as those who are in the faculty of Health Sciences.
Ahluwalia further states that it is concerning that only one-third of students in the higher education sector have been inoculated.
He adds that Higher Health is now looking at implementing strategies that will persuade the remaining middle and last one-third of students to get vaccinated.
The rapid spread of misinformation on social media is another challenge that Higher Health has had to contend with and hampers its efforts to destigmatized Covid-19.
Their campaigns are mostly centered around health and wellness since they also look to raise awareness around other fatal diseases in addition to Covid-19.
In response to the issue of student rights institutions that are looking to implement mandatory vaccines,
Professor Ahluwalia states that Higher Health is in the process of engaging in consultations with various stakeholders in this institution to understand the challenges around their resistance to these proposed policies.
Higher Health maintains that consultations on the matter are still more important than the direct implementation of mandatory vaccine policies.