The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the Department of Health’s announcement of additional measures to roll out the vaccines against Covid-19.
The recent inclusion of six million children between the ages of twelve (12) and seventeen (17) years from Wednesday, 20 October 2021, as well as the provision for booster (3rd) shots for persons with serious co-morbidities. This will help expand the net of persons who are vaccinated and protected, and it will also help to reinforce those whose immune systems are vulnerable.
The Federation calls for the inclusion of health workers in the category of those eligible for booster shots. The vaccine of health workers began in early 2021 and these workers are continuously exposed to this deadly virus. Booster shots will be critical to maintaining their immunity levels and protecting their lives.
The Federation is pleased that this matter is being considered by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and that a decision is expected soon.
The successful trial run of opening sporting events to controlled numbers of attendees at the recent Bafana Bafana match is positive news. Similar trial runs should be undertaken for other sports codes like rugby and cricket, as well as musical and cultural events.
This system of incentivising and rewarding the public for vaccinating will help boost vaccination rates, and help save thousands of jobs in the sports, musical, cultural industries that have been devastated by the pandemic lockdowns.
Many of these jobs and sectors are in real danger of collapse, and the Unemployment Insurance Fund is not able to sustain long term relief measures. A path to safely reopening the economy and enabling workers to earn a living is critical.
COSATU supports vaccinations based upon persuasion and encouragement. This is a more sustainable approach to ensuring mass vaccinations as opposed to a draconian approach that uses coercion and punishment.
The Federation continues to urge all workers to vaccinate and also encourages all parents of and children in the 12 to 17 years age category to vaccinate. The vaccines have proven to be highly effective in saving lives and livelihoods; and they are safe and tested.
Vaccinating is important to easing the unbearable strain that has been placed upon our selfless nurses, doctors, paramedics and other health workers who have been working for more than eighteen (18) months to protect and save millions of lives.
Our recent Central Committee set a bold target for COSATU to mobilise more than 80% of our membership to vaccinate by the end of 2021. Mobile vaccine units have been deployed to COSATU’s Provincial Shop Steward Councils taking place across the country this week. Further work will be done to deploy mobile vaccine units on an ongoing basis.
It is critical that the Department of Health and private healthcare providers develop an aggressive and targeted programme to bring vaccines to the people. Mobile vaccine units need to be deployed to townships, informal areas, rural towns, villages, farms, shopping centres, SASSA pay points, Post Offices, taxi ranks, bus and train stations, churches and mosques. Partnerships are needed with the religious sector, ward councilors, traditional leaders and healers to help mobilise the public and ensure that we reach the 70% national target by the end of 2021.
This is a campaign that requires everyone to contribute to ensure its success. Workers cannot afford to continue to lose wages and jobs with the periodic shut downs of the economy nor can they continue to go to work in fear of being infected.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794