Universities across the country are considering making administering vaccines mandatory and this continues to be a growing debate among higher learning institutions around the country as they prepare for the final term of the academic year.
However, student bodies have said that the implementation of mandatory vaccinations is a bad idea, adding that universities should instead properly engage students and address any skepticism around taking the vaccine.
SASCO deputy president at the University of Johannesburg, Buyile Matiwane says that it would be unfair for universities to deny students access to their facilities on the basis that they are not vaccinated.
We know that there are practical benefits to interactive learning and to bar someone from having access to that would be extremely unfair. So we think that students in their nature should be reasonable actors and we must appeal to them reasonably for them to vaccine, not make it mandatory and take away the agency they have to make the choice.
Matiwane also states that more needs to be done to address the existing trust deficit around vaccines and that this is not something that can be achieved by making vaccinations mandatory.
South African Union of Students spokesperson, Asive Dlanjwa also stated that the move would be tantamount to a violation of students constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, the University of The Free State has said that it is developing a vaccination policy that it plans to release soon.
According to the university's vice-chancellor, Professor Francis Peterson, the policy will balance individual constitutional rights and the directives of the occupational health and safety regulations. The Central University of Technology has also stated that it has no intentions to violate student's constitutional rights.
SASCO's deputy president at the University of Johannesburg also went on to say that they have not been consulted or engaged in this debate and that they learnt about it through recent media reports.