Devan Moonsamy 

Covid-19 vaccination roll out has been growing globally with more age groups being eligible for the doses. This means that in the coming few months more people will be vaccinated as the country is trying to recover from the 3rd wave of infections. 

Companies have started to get the operations on track and operate with more staff in the office. As much as many are still operating remotely the peak time traffic has shown that more people are back on the roads. 

As we have embraced the wearing of PPE as well as the mandatory Covid-19 protocols the same can’t be said for the vaccine. Family, friends and colleagues will have their own view points on taking the vaccine. Despite there being many who are positive about the vaccine there are those who view this as a non-negotiable discussion.

This can become a tense situation in the office. What would start as a calm discussion around vaccines could turn into am ugly confrontation about who is vaccinated and who isn’t. 

Before the office gets to this point of discrimination and conflict based on the vaccination, it is imperative to have a conversation around the vaccination. 

But how should we go about doing this? 

  • The discussion around the vaccination should not be sent via an email. Engagement must take place to encourage those who are confident to take it. At the same time the discussion should also cater for those who don’t feel they are ready to take it. They should not be discriminated for not wanting to take the vaccine. The engagement can take place via teams or zoom which would also be beneficial to those who are working remotely. 
  • One of the reasons why people are hesitant to take the vaccination is due to the lack of information they have on it. They could have received a WhatsApp voice note or clip about why they shouldn’t take it and now feel this is right. Education is key and the lack thereof results in uninformed decision making. Gather information on the research done on the vaccine and make it available to your team. This way if someone previously felt that they would not want to take the vaccine, could now have a change of heart. 
  • We should not force the vaccination decision on anyone. Allow people to make their choices on their own. The decision to not get vaccinated could come from various factors and as a business we must be open to the idea that someone might not want to take it. 
  • Not everyone will be swayed in one conversation. Make staff aware that the help is available around the subject whenever they need it. They don’t need to have a change of heart instantly, maybe after seeing a few colleagues taking the leap and after more research they might be keen on doing so. 
  • People at work might also add to the fear mongering. This means sharing unauthorised or hear say stories about people who have died after taking the vaccine. This sort of behaviour must be shut down in the office. If someone is already on edge then being around people who are sharing stories that are not verified can enhance that fear and result in more resistance to the vaccine. 

Ultimately taking the vaccine is an individual choice and businesses can’t force staff to take it. But what has become clear is that the vaccination is a requirement in order for normalcy to emerge again. Staff should have a portal to turn to in order to get the information they need. This can help break stigma and misinformation available online. 

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

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