Uncle Harvest on "PREVENTING UNVACCINATED STAFF FROM WORKPLACE"

Vaccines have not yet been made widely available for larger numbers of people to access them. It therefore does not make sense to exclude those unvaccinated from the workplace.

The management of the Malawi Electoral Commission has taken a decision to prevent the unvaccinated staff members from reporting to work physically.

It is not clear whether they would be working from home or it's a total stay away from work.

Confirming the reports, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, MEC's spokesperson stated that the decision was taken in the interest of the workers as in the recent past several workers at the Commission had tested positive to the Corona virus.

The news has brought up some controversy as to whether this decision by MEC management does not contradict government's policy position that getting vaccinated is by individual choice no one should be compelled to get vaccinated.

Therefore, MEC's decision is an abuse of the rights of the workers. It is their right not to get the vaccination and still fullfil their obligations as employees of the institution.

MEC has no right to stop them from coming to work.

On the other hand, the other view is that MEC's decision seeks to protect the lives of all the workers in the facility from infections from Corona virus, taking lessons from the past.

The institution has an obligation to make its offices are safe environment for all it's workers and stakeholders that visit the offices from time to time.

These seemingly opposing views bring to light two aspects in the human rights discourse.

Human rights as seen from a western perspective focuses on individual rights. In this regard an individual cannot be forced to get vaccinated against their will.

On the other hand the opposite perspective to this takes into consideration the collective rights of people and gives them precedence over individual rights.

It's view being that collective rights of the workers at MEC cannot be subjected to the rights of those individuals who choose not to be vaccinated.

They should therefore stay away from the workplace if the collective has to be protected.

It could also be easily assumed that such individuals that opted not to be vaccinated might not also not be very committed to social distancing, wearing masks and the washing of hands with soap or sanitizing.

This, however, might be what it is, a presumption.

The other way of looking at the situation is based on the fact that it is only 1.1 percent of the population that has so far been vaccinated in the country.

Where is the wisdom of adopting such a measure coming from when the numbers of vaccinated people are still very low.

Vaccines have not yet been made widely available for larger numbers of people to access them.

It, therefore, does not make sense to exclude those unvaccinated from the workplace.

The question however would be:" Did those unvaccinated staff find themselves in this position out of choice or because the vaccines were not accessible to them?”

It is very clear that in the general population there persist a situation where lack of complaisance to Covid19 is very high either because of lack of information and knowledge, vaccine hesitancy, defiance, religious beliefs or neglect.

There is therefore need for continued civic education to increase voluntary complaisance, making vaccines available and easily accessible to the population adherence to laid down prevention measures, and consistent human rights friendly enforcement big the measures.

Political leaders must walk the talk in these matters if the general population is to take the measures seriously. Political expediency must never be at the cost of human health and life.

What can however, not be denied is that Malawi is in the third wave of Covid19. The numbers of those testing positive is very high so too are the fatalities.

The other development being that infections have also spread to rural areas unlike in the past two waves were it was mostly restricted to urban areas.

As Malawians we need to develop a collective mindset that seeks to protect each other from this pandemic.

Otherwise, the repercussions of this pandemic are going to be huge and dear to this country.

The beast has to be called by its name and confronted decisively.

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