The one thing that concerns many parents in the great vaccine debate is that their child will not be accepted to schools if they do not have an up to date immunisation card. This simply is not the case in South Africa - aren't we lucky :)
Due to constant badgering by pediatricians and the medical community, and then later by the education department many parents in South Africa will be surprised to learn that there is absolutely no legal framework on vaccinations in our country. In South Africa vaccination is voluntary although strongly recommended.
While there is no legal framework parents are expected to ensure their children are immunised. A detailed record of immunisation may be requested when applying for school registration or social grants.
Source : South African Department of Health
The only requirements that is currently mandatory is proof of immunisation against yellow fever for any person that enters South Africa from a country that is deemed by the WHO as a country where yellow fever transmission is present.So our children are still safe on this one.
Immunisation is merely advised by the government, and later when your child reaches school going age it is recommended that the Department of Education requests an up to date immunisation card on entrance of a learner. However, there is nothing that says that acceptance of a child is dependent on immunisation. The principal is bound to merely recommend the learner be immunised, and still accept the child into their school.
Just as a child cannot be refused entry if they cannot pay school fees, a child cannot be refused entry if he or she rejects the schools code of conduct - being immunised may be part of such a code of conduct.
According to the legal department at the national Department of Education, an unimmunised child’s right to attend a school has never been formally tested. However, the right to practise one’s belief or religion—even if it contradicts the school’s code of conduct—has been legally tested in terms of the South African Schools Act of 1996. These cases have shown that the Constitution is considered binding and the fundamental rights of children as enshrined in the Bill of Rights, come first. School codes of conduct are secondary to the Constitution and must be based upon it: they cannot contain provisions that contradict the Constitution.
The relevant section in the case of immunisation is the Equality subsection (3) under the Bill of Rights: neither “the State” nor “any person” may “unfairly discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone on one or more grounds” including “religion”, “conscience” and “belief”. The latter are grounds on which people may refuse vaccination.
Urging principals to ask for vaccination certificates provides a safety net: to find unvaccinated children and have the principal exert influence on parents, explains Cameron. The success of any vaccination programme depends on the coverage. The more people who are vaccinated, the more people are protected, even unvaccinated adults. Cameron estimates about an 80% vaccination coverage in South Africa. Source: Mail & Guardian
Have you researched your options, what was your decision? Check back later in the week for the full story on why I decided to not vaccinate my son, Jesse.