Reitumetse Makwea

By Reitumetse Makwea

Journalist


Covid-19 vaccines on teachers’ timetables

Department says up to 582 000 teachers and staff will be vaccinated in next two weeks.


Government’s stumbling vaccination plan began to build a little head of steam yesterday and feelings of hope, excitement – and worry – were the order of the day as public and private school teachers finally received their Covid-19 vaccines across the country. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi yesterday launched the teachers’ inoculation programme at the Rabasotho Community Hall in Tembisa, east of Johannesburg. Some Gauteng teachers said even though they were happy to finally get their jabs, they were worried about the very rare fatal blood clots which were previously linked to the Johnson…

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Government’s stumbling vaccination plan began to build a little head of steam yesterday and feelings of hope, excitement – and worry – were the order of the day as public and private school teachers finally received their Covid-19 vaccines across the country.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi yesterday launched the teachers’ inoculation programme at the Rabasotho Community Hall in Tembisa, east of Johannesburg.

Some Gauteng teachers said even though they were happy to finally get their jabs, they were worried about the very rare fatal blood clots which were previously linked to the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine.

ALSO READ: Gauteng increases vaccination sites for education workers to 62

“Eleven of our teachers went to the youth centre in the area today to get their vaccines, but I don’t know yet when my turn is,” said a teacher at one of the schools in Gauteng.

“I have mixed feelings about this. As much as I am looking forward to getting the vaccine jab, I am also worried about the sideeffects and how I will react to it.”

According to the department of basic education (DBE), up to 582 000 teachers and staff would be vaccinated in the next two weeks as they were chasing a tight deadline to conclude the roll-out by 8 July.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department initially had 281 vaccination sites for teachers. However, the number increased to 302 and will increase as time passes because they have realised that the numbers are increasing.

The department said it had received 300 000 J&J vaccines to inoculate teachers and other education staff.

Meanwhile, as the country waits for the more than 1.2 million doses of the J&J vaccine promised by 28 June, more than 17 493 new cases were detected yesterday, with more than two million administered vaccine doses.

The roll-out came at a much-needed time when infection numbers in schools had been on the rise, with more than 4 700 Covid-19 cases in Gauteng schools.

Another Joburg teacher said although the vaccination drive for them had brought some relief, she believed they should have been vaccinated much sooner as they were among front-line workers.

“I’m glad there’s finally a rollout but in the midst of the Covid-19 storm, we shouldn’t have tobe worried about being sick and when schools would close,” she said.

“We are all naturally anxious about getting our vaccines, but 80% of us are really happy because we have missed a lot of time.”

Lesufi was part of the first group of the education sector workers to get the jab and said although he was happy the sector finally received jabs, they had already lost a lot of time.

“We are targeting 125 000 staff members [in Gauteng], and 71 000 of those are teachers,” Lesufi said.

“We have incorporated everyone within the sector. I am feeling well after taking the vaccine, obviously with mixed emotions.”

He also said the roll-out was the beginning of ensuring that the sector recovers, but said if they had began earlier, they would have protected the future of the children.

“Experts have indicated that with the closure and opening of schools since last year, we have lost almost three to five years of schooling,” he added.

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) expressed satisfaction with the vaccine roll-out programme in the sector, but said there were concerns.

“We feel that Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal might have to vaccinate twice the number in order to reach all teachers within the given time,” said Naptosa executive director Basil Manuel.

reitumetsem@citizen.co.za

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