Taking the Covid-19 vaccine is becoming more contentious, as hesitancy grows and frustration at restrictions to curb the coronavirus escalates.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula is continuously reiterating the stance of the government to only inoculate those eligible citizens who wish to get the Covid-19 jabs.
The sentiment, recently shared by the education ministry, continues to encourage teachers and all members in the education community to get vaccinated but stressed the vaccination will continue to be voluntary.
“If there is a need, such decision will be discussed in the various technical committees – and then, of course, on a national level at this stage. Our message is consistent: vaccination has been proven to reduce serious illnesses, reduce the risk of being hospitalised, and this compelling evidence that vaccinations reduce death rates,” education ED Sanet Steenkamp was quoted as saying by this publication.
NamRights, a local non-profit human rights organisation, contests this approach and feels vaccination should be made mandatory, especially when it comes to healthcare workers.
“In order to combat this pandemic of unvaccinated people and at the same time to boost vaccinations, states must embark upon introducing mandatory vaccination requirements, such as requiring local authorities and private or business owners to require both their employees and customers to produce proof of their vaccination or weekly negative Covid-19 tests,” stated NamRights in a recent statement.
Meanwhile, the Alliance of Christian Churches in Namibia (ACCN) says vaccination should not be made mandatory and no one should be forced to take the vaccines. The ACCN is a body of Christian leaders in Namibia that convenes to deliberate and to speak from a biblical perspective as a unified alliance of Christian churches on national matters concerning the wellbeing of the nation. “The moment we impose something against somebody’s will, it violates his rights and ultimately destroys the will power of survival, which forms part of his intrinsic co-existence to life on earth,” stated Reverend Dolly Nengushe.
She added the discrimination and stigmatisation of unvaccinated Namibians are hampering the fight against Covid-19, and has the potential to stir hate speech towards the unvaccinated. Moreover, it will further segregate and instigate enmity among employees, friends, colleagues and church members.
Nengushe stated the country is already fighting against factions in society and separation brought about by the division of the population between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, which will bring disunity.
“The thought of carrying around mandatory vaccine passports brings back terrible memories of the apartheid regime that discriminated between races and didn’t allow people of a particular race to enter certain spaces,” shared Nengushe.