Vaccination South Africa: Willie Pietersen Weighs In with His Thoughts

As part of the Covid-awareness information discussion, we’ve asked for your thoughts and real life stories of what you’ve experienced with Covid in your life or in the industry, and why the vaccine is so important to you in your life.

Guest post by Willie Pietersen, written for the Industry Vaccination campaign.

Willie Pietersen is perhaps the most experienced, well known and respected member of the South African hair industry. He is current salon owner at Hair Xotica @ Headboys Hairdressing, and his credentials include: past President of the EOHCB, past Chairman of South African Bargaining Council for Hairdressing & Beauty, past Board Member of Services Seta, and Chairman of the Personal Care Chamber.

With his long history in the SA industry as a key industry player in such organised labour organisations and organised employer organisations, we asked for his thoughts and experiences on the vaccination programme in South Africa and with the hair and beauty industry in particular.

Thank you, Jassy and Beth, for inviting me to share my views on the Covid-19 vaccination situation.

When Covid-19 happened Feb-March 2020, we were all confused, frustrated, and at a loss for answers or ideas of what to do or how to do it.

The third person to die from Covid-19 in South Africa was a school friend of mine. We Matriculated in 1958 and we were now Senior Citizens. This really shook me, making it very personal for me, very quickly. We all have lost a friend, family members, and loved ones over the last year and a half.

We went into Lockdown moaning and arguing, thinking this was going to be a short time thing and all will be back to normal soon. Then realization set in and we realized: no income! The first shock. No salaries for staff, no rental money, and concerned about our own survival.

After some weeks of Lockdown, large numbers of hairdressers and beauticians started to do house calls and we all know how that went down!

Fast forward: EOHCB and the Bargaining Council lobbied openly and under cover to get our industry moved to lower levels. We did not all appreciate that but eventually we were opened up and able to trade.

Over the next year, there was lots of talk about a vaccine and eventually it materialized. Right from the start, it was controversial but the World Health Organization’s involvement gave it some credibility. As with everything new, a lot of talk, but we all eventually accepted it.

Pro-vaccination and Anti-vaccination discussions have been the hottest discussions.

Be this as it may, I have been Pro-vaccination from the first day. I grew up in the late 1940s and early 1950s and recalled the Polio infections. Some school friends died and I had a very close friend crippled. He wore calipers and could not walk without assistance. Polio Vaccination! Today no more Polio. Science saved us!

I was one of the first over 60s to register for vaccination and received my first shot of Pfizer vaccination 21st May and the second jab 21st July. Fully vaccinated, absolutely no side effects and photos on Facebook receiving the Jab just to brag!

I have been a keen supporter of Covid Vaccination from the first day it was possible. ALL our staff have been vaccinated as well. Prior to all this, we had three staff members test positive, going into self-quarantine and recovering very quickly. I am sure we have had clients in our salon that must have been positive but we will never know for sure. I insist on following all Covid Protocols and sanitizing sanitizing sanitizing. Being very pro-vaccination, we obviously discuss this continuously with our clients and hope and pray they do as well, but we will never know either.

In my own opinion, I would love to see vaccination be made compulsory but I realize this is very controversial and accept that there will always people with different views on this! Maybe more education is needed to convert the unconverted? Education for the conspiracy theory supporters? What more is needed?

Signed, Willie Pietersen

Salon owner at Hair Xotica @ Headboys Hairdressing, past President EOHCB, past Chairman South African Bargaining Council for Hairdressing & Beauty, past Board Member Services Seta, and Chairman Personal Care Chamber

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We’ve asked some of our top professionals in the industry to share their thoughts with us and each week we’ll be sharing their stories for you to enjoy. If you have a positive experience you’d like to share with us on the vaccine and the differences it’s made in your personal life or your salon and with your clients’ appreciation of their salon experiences, please send to Beth at, with photos you’d like us to use. Stay safe.

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