Namibia: Govt Considers Mandatory Vaccination

The government is currently considering the possibility of introducing mandatory vaccination in Namibia.

This is according to minister of justice Yvonne Dausab, who on Friday at the Covid-19 briefing at State House said the government would consider the advice of the attorney general, which is yet to be made available.

"For the moment, we are looking at all the options, and there has been quite a bit of comparative work done. I am sure the attorney general will provide the advice required to make a determination as to which direction Namibia should take," she said.

Dausab said the reason why the government has not taken a hard stance on mandatory vaccination yet was in the past, among other reasons, due to a lack of vaccines in the country.

" when there is a decision made . . . you need to ensure that the service that you need to provide is freely available to a large contingent of our society," she said.

She said when one lives in a country with a constitutional democracy such as that of Namibia, with a bill of rights, one would want to ensure that a responsible, proportional decision is taken, which takes a number of issues into account.

"For instance, employers, under the provisions of the Labour Act, should at least consult members of that particular employment space on the reasons why they are taking the decision to make vaccination mandatory.

"That conversation is extremely important so that people understand why they are subjects," she said.

She said it is important for members of society to understand the risks associated with not getting vaccinated.

Dausab said a process that calls for health committees to be established is set out under the Labour Act.

EXCEPTIONS

She said the government must also consider that some individuals would not want to be subjected to mandatory vaccination.

She said it is important that those exceptions are set out, whether they are religious or health related.

"But the ultimate is that the independent aperture, which are the courts, may have to make a firm determination about whether or not mandatory vaccinations are offending the provisions of the Namibian Constitution, and whether or not the pandemic we are fighting is reason enough to subject society to mandatory vaccination," Dausab said. Attorney general Festus Mbandeka last week said the Cabinet has set up various committees to consider ways to accelerate vaccination, and mandatory vaccination is just one option.

"Cabinet is awaiting recommendations, which my office will then scrutinise for a legal assessment before any final decision is taken," Mbandeka said.

President Hage Geingob on Friday said: "It is still voluntary, and you still have your freedom, but I said your freedom stops where another person's freedom starts, and the national common good."

The president said individuals who do not want to be vaccinated should consider not having contact with those who have been vaccinated.

"Go to the village or farm and stay there alone so that you cannot affect other people, because you cannot endanger the lives of other people because you have your freedom," he said.

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