A sizable number of adult South Africans support compulsory workplace Covid-19 vaccination and vaccine passport, according to the recent survey by the Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg in collaboration with the Developmental, Ethical and Capable State research division of the Human Sciences Research Council.
The findings are based on Round 5 of the two institutions’ ‘Covid-19 Democracy Survey’ aimed at gauging the public views on compulsory workplace vaccination and vaccine passports. Conducted between 22 October 2021 and 17 November 2021, the survey targeted only adults living in South Africa. It is released at the time when government is mulling over these controversial issues.
Last week, the National Economic Development and Labour Council indicated it will throw its weight behind calls for the Covid-19 vaccination mandates at workplace and restriction to public gathering for the unvaccinated. Participants had to answer three related questions:
· To what extent do you support or oppose employers making it compulsory for their employees to be vaccinated?
· To what extent do you support or oppose having to provide proof of vaccination to access public places, for example places of worship, restaurants or sporting events?
· To what extent do you agree or disagree that providing proof of vaccination to enter public places would lead to discrimination?
The survey was conducted online using the #datafree Moya Messenger App. Operated by Datafree, the app has six million subscribers with 800,000 using it every day. The survey was available in six languages: English, Afrikaans, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Setswana and Sesotho, with English being the most common language used.
Just under seven thousands (6, 358) participants fully completed the survey via the Moya messenger app. Most of them used smartphone, however, it was felt this excluded those with no access to smartphones, particularly between older and [some] younger people.
To address this, the researchers designed a ‘supplemental’ telephonic survey, which was undertaken by Ask Afrika. This yielded an additional 252 responses from those aged 55 and above. According to the researchers, Ask Afrika was provided with key sampling criteria regarding this supplemental sample’s demographic, social, and geographic characteristics.
Under-representation of White adults
Furthermore,toaddress an under-representation of White adults in the survey, Ask Afrika also fielded the survey to 23 White adults drawn from their online panel. These cases were integrated with the Moya sample to produce an overall sample size of 6,633 respondents for this round, said the researchers. All of the data was weighted to match Statistics South Africa data on race, education and age, and can be regarded as broadly indicative of the views of the adult population at large, they added.
Key findings include;
- 54% of South African adults support employers making Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory and 51% support vaccine passports.
- However, levels of support for these policies differ considerably by vaccination status and willingness to vaccinate. Among the fully vaccinated support for compulsory workplace vaccination and vaccine passports is 75% and 78%, respectively. However, among those that are unvaccinated and do not want to be vaccinated support falls to under 10% for both measures.
- Support for compulsory workplace vaccination is highest amongst Indian adults (65%) followed by Black African Adults (56%), Coloured adults (49%) and lowest among White adults (32%).
- Similarly, support for vaccine passports is lower among White adults, 32% compared to 54% for Black African adults, 51% of Indian adults, and 46% among Coloured adults.
- Higher levels of education seem to be associated with greater opposition to compulsory workplace vaccination and vaccine passports. 61% of those with less than matric support compulsory workplace vaccination compared to 39% of those with post-matric education. 60% of those with less than matric support providing proof of vaccination to enter public places compared to 40% of those with post-matric education.
- There were negligible differences by gender and small differences by age.
- Adults aged 18-24 years had slightly higher support for compulsory workplaces vaccination compared to older age groups. 57% compared to 52% for those aged 55 and above. However, they were slightly less supportive of vaccine passports, 51% compared to 55% for those aged 55 and above.
- The survey also gauged relative levels of support for vaccine passports to enter six particular types of public places. Close to half (47%) supported vaccine passports being introduced for sporting events at stadiums. Similar shares (43-45%) supported vaccine passports at schools and universities, and at restaurants, shisa nyamas, coffee shops or night clubs. Slightly lower support was evident for such measures at municipal offices (38%) and places of worship (40%). Vaccination status and level of vaccine hesitancy again matters appreciably for levels of support.
As with the previous similar undertakings, this survey was funded by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the National Research Foundation and the Department of Science and Innovation.