Debate over forced jabs
Mec bars unvaccinated employees
The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has stopped employees who are not vaccinated against Covid from going to the office, The Daily Times understands.
Mec has 257 members of staff.
The commission has advised unvaccinated workers to stay home and go to the office only after vaccination.
“These staff [members] will report to the office when they have received vaccination. If not, then they will continue working from home,” said Mec Director of Communications Sangwani Mwafulirwa Monday.
He said the decision had been made in the best interest of the employees because there are “many benefits” of getting vaccinated.
The electoral body has disclosed that, last month, it registered 13 cases of Covid even though no one was hospitalised.
It is not the first time for an institution to urge unvaccinated employees to stay home. In May this year, a leading hospitality institution indicated in a memo to employees that, considering the nature of the industry, where physical contact is the order of the day, workers who would not get inoculated risked not being allowed to work in a physical setup.
According to the alleged memo, those not vaccinated pose a big risk to fellow staff, guests and other clients.
“Any person who cannot be vaccinated on the advice of a doctor must provide a written proof from government authorised doctor and beyond this date (May 24 2021) no one will be allowed to work without the vaccination certificate,” the memo reads.
However, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda indicated in May that people were expected to take Oxford AstraZeneca and other Covid vaccines out of their own volition but Malawi Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary Denis Kalekeni observed at the time that companies had put in place measures to sustain their businesses.
“Businesses have suffered a lot due to Covid and any employer will employ mechanisms of ensuring that the working environment is favourable and is not posing a threat to others and one of such issues is to ensure that every worker at those premises is fully protected,” he said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine does not prevent a person from contracting or spreading the virus but reduces the risk of being hospitalised.
Meanwhile, Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) Chairperson George Jobe has condemned Mec’s decision.
“Vaccination is by choice,” Jobe said.
He pointed out that the country was coming from a background where people linked the Covid vaccination exercise to religious issues.
“As such, what the public institution has done to come out and try to force everyone to get vaccinated may cause confusion and affect the vaccination programme. As such, that [the position] has to be rethought,” Jobe said.
The issue of forced vaccines has spurred debate, including in the United Kingdom, where the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was first made, with some vegans said to be opposed to the idea of vaccination.
Malawi is expected to receive 302,400 doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid vaccine on August 6 as the country continues to vaccinate people against coronavirus.
Kandodo Chiponda has indicated that the vaccines would be available in all vaccination sites by Monday, August 9.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.