COVID-19 Vaccination is vital for Women’s Health

The various professional medical and scientific institutions listed hereunder wish to categorically distance themselves from the media statement of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) issued on 16 January, 2022, entitled “Warning Against Imposing Mandatory Covid-19 Vaccination on Employees and Students”.

We wish to express our profound concern at the contents of the statement, which are at variance with the accepted scientific knowledge regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.

This concern is deepened by the fact that a Chapter 9 institution like the CGE, which wields enormous influence in society, may, unknowingly or otherwise, fuel anti-vaccination sentiment and compromise the national vaccination programme, as well as efforts to overcome the COVID 19 pandemic.

Vaccine mandates are the subject of deep scrutiny by a range of institutions and sectors. The constitutionality of mandates is being legally examined, as well. We, therefore, take issue with the Commission trying to bolster its argument by wrongly insinuating that COVID-19 vaccination has the potential to harm women’s health.

While the Commission is at liberty to express itself on the matter of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and how this may impinge on constitutional rights, it should, as a responsible and respected public institution, confine itself to the known scientific facts of the effects of vaccination and should not conflate selective scientific references with its position on vaccine mandates.

By misinterpreting the medical consequences of a slight lengthening of the menstrual cycles in a very small number of women following vaccination, among the billions of women who have been vaccinated worldwide, the Commission’s statement inappropriately creates confusion and fear in the minds of women who have been vaccinated and is likely to increase vaccine hesitancy among women.

The Commission seemingly disregards the fact that pregnant women (and their unborn babies) are at a much greater risk of dying if they are unvaccinated. It fails to appreciate that one-in-six unvaccinated pregnant women admitted to hospital in South Africa with COVID-19 infection requires mechanical ventilation and one in sixteen has a fatal outcome.

COVID-19 vaccination, on the other hand, provides upwards of 80% protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death.

We fully endorse the scientific reasoning outlined in a statement on this matter issued by the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of South Africa (statement attached). The research cited therein is of the highest quality and emphasises that the relatively rare effect of a slightly longer menstrual cycle is temporary, harmless and has no effect on menstrual health, fertility and reproductive health.

The evidence is indisputable. COVID-19 vaccination is safe, does not affect women’s bodies negatively and saves women’s lives.

The Commission’s assertion COVID-19 vaccinations could have long term harmful effects on reproductive and sexual health, in the absence of medical evidence to support such a contention, is, accordingly, strenuously repudiated.

We are of the view that the CGE, like all state institutions, medical and scientific bodies, social partners and civil society formations working in the fields of women’s rights, empowerment and equality, should urge women to get vaccinated and advance and defend their rights to all relevant information about and access to vaccination.

We, therefore, call on the CGE to withdraw its ill-advised statement of January 16 immediately. We also extend a sincere invitation to the Commission to meet with us at its urgent convenience, so that we are able to share with it relevant views and scientific facts regarding the impact of Covid 19 vaccination generally and, in particular, on women’s health.

Response to the Commission for Gender Equality’s warning against mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

Issued by:

  • The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) Progressive Health Forum (PHF)
  • South African Medical Association (SAMA)
  • The South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. (SASOG) South African Paediatrics Association (SAPA)
  • South African Private Practitioners Forum (SAPPF)
  • President, Nuclear Medicine Research Infrastructure (NUMERI) Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
  • Section 27

Media enquiries

Alfred Thutloa: Head of Communications, SAMRC
e-mail: Alfred.Thutloa@mrc.ac.za
Mobile: 060 966 5217

Dumile Mlambo: Manager, Public Relations
Mobile: 078 313 5798

Release date: 
Sunday, January 23, 2022 - 14:43