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Over half of adults support compulsory workplace vaccination, survey finds

A recent survey shows that half of the adults polled support compulsory workplace COVID-19 vaccination and a vaccine passport, while approval drops significantly by vaccination status and levels of vaccine hesitancy.

The findings are contained in research by the Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg (UJ), in collaboration with the Developmental, Ethical and Capable State research division of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC).

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last month that government has set up a task team that will undertake broad consultations on making vaccination mandatory for specific activities and locations.

“The task team will report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on vaccination chaired by the Deputy President, which will make recommendations to the Cabinet on a fair and sustainable approach to vaccine mandates,” the President told the nation.

The online survey revealed that 54% of South African adults are in favour of employers making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory and 51% support vaccine passports.

“However, levels of support for these policies differ considerably by vaccination status and willingness to vaccinate. Among the fully vaccinated, support for compulsory workplace vaccination and vaccine passports is 75% and 78%, respectively,” the study found.

Meanwhile, among those that are unvaccinated and reluctant to receive the jab, support falls to under 10% for both measures.

The survey looked at the public’s support for compulsory workplace COVID-19 vaccination and having to provide proof of vaccination to enter public places known as “vaccine passports”.

These latest findings come from a round of five of the UJ/HSRC COVID-19 democracy survey, which collected data between 22 October and 17 November 2021, which was completed by 6 633 participants.

Race

In terms of race, support for compulsory workplace vaccination is highest amongst Indian adults (65%), followed by Blacks (56%), Coloured (49%) and lowest among White (32%).

Similarly, backing for vaccine passports is lower among Whites, at 32% compared to 54% for Blacks, 51% for Indians and 46% among Coloured.

“Higher levels of education seem to be associated with greater opposition to compulsory workplace vaccination and vaccine passports.”

Sixty-one percent of those with less than matric support obligatory workplace vaccination compared to 39% of those with post-matric education.

In addition, 60% of those with less than matric supported providing proof of vaccination to enter public places compared to 40% of those with post-matric education.

Gender

Adults aged between 18 and 24 had slightly higher support for compulsory workplace vaccination compared to older age groups. That is 57% compared to 52% for those aged 55 and above.

“However, they were slightly less supportive of vaccine passports, 51% compared to 55% for those aged 55 and above.”

Public places

The survey also gauged relative levels of support for vaccine passports to enter six particular types of public places.

Close to half (47%) supported vaccine passports being introduced for sporting events at stadiums, while 43% to 45%) supported vaccine passports at schools and universities, and at restaurants, shisanyamas, coffee shops or nightclubs.

Slightly lower support was evident for such measures at municipal offices (38%) and places of worship (40%).

Researchers said these findings could be regarded as broadly indicative of the views of the adult population at large.

“In light of the slow uptake in vaccination, combined with the potential new risks of the Omicron variant, these findings underscore the ongoing importance of addressing access to vaccination sites and vaccine hesitancy.”

Source: South African Government News Agency