To Get COVID-19 Vaccine, Individual “to make that choice”: Bishop in South Africa

Bishop Peter Holiday of South Africa's Kroonstad Diocese

A Catholic Bishop has asked South Africans to make a personal decision on whether or not they want to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

In his Saturday, February 13 statement, Bishop Peter Holiday of South Africa’s Kroonstad Diocese asks Catholics in the country to decide based on “their consciences.”

“In the matter concerning the Vaccines it is up to the individual to make that choice. Catholics use their conscience in making a decision,” Bishop Holiday has said.

He adds in reference to vaccines, “The Church's guidance on such a matter is that we must take care of our health – to use medication that is good for a person’s health to promote life.”

“The President, Cyril Ramaphosa said no one will be forced to take the vaccine, leaving people free to make their own decision,” the Bishop of Kroonstad says in his February 13 message addressed to Priests, Deacons, Religious, Brothers and Sisters.


In light of the President’s declaration on voluntary vaccination, the 69-year-old South African Bishop says that the people of God in “the Diocese of Kroonstad, we move forward to live our Catholic and sacramental faith keeping all the necessary restrictions and protocols.”

South Africa is battling a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic caused by a new mutation of the disease identified as the 501.V2 variant. The new strain has led to a spike in infections that have crossed the one million mark.

The country has recorded at least 1.49 million COVID-19 cases, 1.39 million recoveries and 47,899 deaths. Among those who have succumbed to the pandemic is Archbishop Abel Gabuza who had spent a week in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Earlier this month, the country received one million doses of India-produced Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine toward curbing the pandemic. Another half a million doses of the same vaccine are expected later in the month. 

However, the country’s leadership put on hold the rollout of the vaccine after checks on the first batch of the doses showed "disappointing" response against the 501.V2 variant of COVID-19.

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The South African government is reportedly considering administering the vaccine on about 100,000 people to check on its efficiency before a nationwide rollout.

In the meantime, the government is set to purchase the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, whose clinical trials have reportedly been found to be effective against the South African strain of the pandemic.

According to the country’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, the first batch of the vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the country mid-February.

Meanwhile, in his February 13 message, Bishop Holiday has directed that the upcoming Ash Wednesday, the Lenten Season, and Easter be undertaken while observing all COVID-19 protocols.

“Let us continue to pray for healing for the World and South Africa through the intercession of Mary Mother of God and of the Church. Remembered in prayer,” the Bishop implores.