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UCT senate backs mandatory vaccination for staff and students

Image: Adrian Frith [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

But final word on compulsory Covid-19 jabs rests with university council

The University of Cape Town senate has voted with an overwhelming majority in favour of a proposal to make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for staff and students by 1 January 2022.

A total of 183 senate members voted for the adoption of the proposal with 32 against and 5 abstensions. The majority of the UCT senate is made up of university management, deans and heads of departments, certain elected members, and professors.

Linda-Gail Bekker, a former International Aids Society president who heads South Africa’s Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, proposed the petition. It wants proof of vaccination as “a condition of being able to perform their duties” for staff and as a condition of registration for students.

The petition cited as its rationale for proposing mandatory vaccination the overwhelming scientific evidence for vaccine efficacy and a need to protect the 2022 academic year. The senate voted on the proposal following discussions and deliberations during a meeting held on 17 September.

Elijah Moholola, UCT spokesperson, said in a statement dated 23 September that the senate had considered the “complex matter fully and taken into consideration a range of views”. He said that an engagement process with all stakeholders will now take place. He added that the university continues to encourage all staff and students to get vaccinated.

“UCT emphasises that no decision or position has been taken yet by the university on mandatory vaccination on campus. Any final decision on a matter of policy for the university will have to be a decision of the university council,” he said.