Umm Muhammed Umar
Leading health NGO, Right to Care, has become the first NGO, to introduce a mandatory vaccine policy. The NGO employs some 4500 Right to Care staff must receive a COVID-19 vaccine within six months of becoming eligible to receive one. Mandatory vaccinations are still very much controversial. Radio Islam spoke to Dr. Ntombi Sigwebela, Chief of Party for Vaccinations, at Right to Care.
Dr Sigwebela said that Right to Care was in the business of protecting communities, so their staff was their primary responsibility. She said this was so that they could remain protected, and so could the general community. She said by this they also tried to ensure that the economy continued to function and grow. Dr Sigwebela said, “This is not a decision that was taken lightly. It’s an ongoing work, caring work that Right to Care has been doing in terms of management of the COVID 19 infections.” She added, “science has proven again and again that vaccines work. Even in the recent data that has come out of hospitals, it shows that those who, who get infected whilst they’re vaccinated, have a better chance of a better outcome in that they are less sick and they are also less likely to die.” She said that vaccinated also shed much less virus than someone who is not vaccinated. Dr Sigwebela said that having their staff vaccinated was part of the ongoing wellness and care for them and their families and the people that they work with in the facility.
More than 80% of Right to Care staff have been vaccinated, and 20% have for various reasons, not taken the vaccine as yet. The organization has allowed objections of a religious nature or, if there are health reasons as to why the individual could not vaccinate. A process has been set up where the risk of an individual is assessed. Staff that work at clinics, and therefore face patients would be treated differently from someone who was part of the support administration, and had objections. Dr Sigwebela said that Right to Care had a very intensive communication and education program where staff was continuously informed and educated, as well as ongoing counselling, and understanding of the reasons why an individual would not want to vaccinate. Most of the reasons thus far have been about fear and uncertainty. The organization also has a program where social media communication regarding the vaccines could be addressed. Dr Sigwebela said caution should be exercised in terms of information. She said that most of what was read on social media were generally people’s fears and unsubstantiated claims.