Why COVID-19 vaccines are like seatbelts - and everyone should use them


Welcome to Video 10 of our series on Understanding Vaccines with Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, Head of the Centre for Clinical Excellence at Discovery Health. In this article, we try to understand why there are global moves to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, whether they are reasonable, and what the implications of such decisions might be.

There's ongoing public debate around the world on making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory. While COVID-19 vaccination is currently not mandated by law in South Africa, there are a number of moves globally to mandate vaccinations in various areas, such as in the workplace.

Before forming a strong opinion of any kind, it's important to remember that COVID-19 is a global public health emergency. A useful analogy to help you consider mandatory vaccination is to think of vaccines as seatbelts in a vehicle.

A healthier perspective: COVID-19 vaccines are like seatbelts

Driving with a seatbelt is the law in South Africa. Whatever your personal preferences, if you are caught driving without one, you're fined. Why? There are at least three good reasons.

In the case of an accident:

  • They are proven to help protect you, the driver, from more serious harm.
  • Similarly, they help to protect others around you - any passengers in your car.
  • They also prevent occupants in the car from "unnecessarily" using strained public health resources, as any injuries would be less severe and require less medical intervention.

Viewing vaccines in the same light can help to remind you that COVID-19 is a devastating pandemic but it's in our power to help manage it. It's responsible to use every tool we can - be it t mask-wearing, social distancing, frequent handwashing or vaccines - to limit the spread and harm of the disease, save lives and spare precious healthcare resources.

COVID-19 vaccines are increasingly being required to travel

It's also likely that people who are travelling and entering a different country will have to produce a vaccine passport to show they've been vaccinated. This is not a new concept: many countries require proof of vaccination for travellers wishing to enter or exit the country. This applies to a number of existing diseases, such as Cholera, Hepatitis B, Measles, Rotavirus or Yellow fever. Watch Dr Noluthando explain more here:

Learn more about COVID-19 and vaccines here, and join the millions of South Africans who can proudly say, #IGotMyVaccine!

All medical information found on this website including content, graphics and images, is for education and information objectives only. Discovery publishes content to help to promote a better understand of COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations. The content covered is an overview of key concepts and is not exhaustive in nature. We encourage further reading from other credible sources where necessary.

South African organisations:

  • National Department of Health's dedicated COVID-19 portal: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
  • National Institute for Communicable Diseases' (part of the National Health Laboratory Service) dedicated COVID-19 hub
  • South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPRHA - part of the National Department of Health).
  • South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
  • South African Medical Journal (SAMJ)

International Organisations:

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