Businesses in South Africa must do everything possible to encourage employees and the wider public to get vaccinated, business organisation Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) CEO Busi Mavuso says in her weekly newsletter.
“There has obviously been much debate about vaccine mandates. Companies like Discovery have shown how powerful they can be, having now got its staff vaccination rate up to 94%. Other companies have followed the example, though there will be legal tests of the principles, I am sure. Organised business is working to obtain legal clarity as soon as possible,” she writes.
Mavuso also highlights that President Cyril Ramaphosa is establishing a task team to explore the issue, noting that government can do much to mandate vaccination.
“Vaccination is a public good in that high rates at a population level substantially reduce the risks of serious medical consequences from the illness, slow down transmission and reduce the probability of new variants,” emphasises Mavuso.
She notes that companies can do a lot to drive vaccine take-up, even if they do not mandate it.
“Encourage and support your employees – many are hesitant not because of some deep ideological conviction but because they do not have the information to feel able to make an informed choice. Help by giving clear information on vaccines, including the growing body of international evidence on how to help countries get back to normal. Explain where they can get vaccinated and offer them time off to do so (it is a legal requirement),” she advises.
Mavuso says business can contribute to driving wider vaccination rates, for example, by offering discounts to those who are vaccinated. “This is an obvious way that business can use its influence to contribute to the wider public good. I think this is clearly in line with businesses’ commitment to be socially responsible,” she explains.
Mavuso calls on companies to publicly report on what they are doing to drive vaccine take-up both internally and in the wider public, and says they should be rewarded by public recognition.
Mavuso points out that initial indicators are that there has been a surge in vaccinations in the last week – a positive response to the news of the Omicron variant.