WATCH: Vaccination of teachers commences in the Western Cape
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Cape Town - Today the vaccination of thousands of teachers and education-related staff members starts in the province, which will be a huge relief to teacher unions worried about the safety of their members, as the third wave of Covid-19 infections increases rapidly.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) head Brent Walters and Education MEC Debbie Schäfer were joined by union representatives, principal association members, teachers and public service staff for the official launch of the roll-out, at Metro Medical Services in Pinelands, Ndabeni.
Eugenia Paulo-Goagoses of Masiphathisane Primary from the West Coast was the first teacher in the Western Cape to received the vaccine as part of the roll-out to those in the education sector.
“The initial jab you don’t actually feel the needle going in. I can feel a bit of a half-numbing effect by now, but it wasn’t painful at all.
“I’m normally very scared of needles, but I can honestly say that it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be,” Paulo-Goagoses said.
Paulo-Goagoses said that she is a very solutions-based person, and she believes that getting vaccinated will be the way to help overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is hopefully a solution that will work for all of us, so I would definitely say put your faith in the Almighty, and if by all means this can help all of us to go back to a sense of normality, then I would say go for it.”
Videos: Henk Kruger/African News Agency
National Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said nationally the sector was targeting 582 000 teachers, including support staff, to get vaccinated in 10 to 14 days.
The Department of Health has earmarked 300 000 Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccinations for the sector.
The provincial vaccine roll-out was moved forward from its initial start on Friday. The Department, however, said vaccinations at non-metro sites will commence on Friday.
The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) single dose vaccine will be administered to those within the private and public education sectors. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has allocated about 55 200 vaccines for the sector.
The sector will be making use of 29 designated vaccination sites, across the province, for the roll-out.
On Monday, Walters wrote to schools, updating them on the planned roll-out.
WCED head Brent Walters discusses the roll-out of the vaccine to teaches. Video: Henk Kruger/African News Agency
Spokesperson for Schäfer, Kerry Mauchline said: “We have received a positive response from schools regarding the education sector rollout, and the process of ensuring that we have the details of all those who wish to receive the vaccine is ongoing.
“MEC Schäfer has urged all staff to participate to assist in getting back to some semblance of normality, given the learning losses our children have already experienced. Vaccinating our staff will reduce the risk of them becoming seriously ill and make our schools safer places, giving us the confidence to return all our schools to normal timetabling.”
South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) Western Cape provincial secretary Jonavan Rustin said Sadtu in the province is supporting the vaccine program.
“As Sadtu Western Cape, we are encouraging our members to be vaccinated, as the vaccine program rolls out. We have been in consultation with a number of scientists to give reports on the J&J vaccination and we are confident that our members will take up the matter.
“In terms of the time frame, we think it is quite tight, but we need to have a well-oiled machine to start the vaccination process, and schools must swiftly respond to the timetabling, as well as districts, so that the programme can run smoothly. We will monitor how the programme unfolds within the province,” said Rustin.
Those who do not qualify to be vaccinated are: any person who has contracted Covid-19 in the past 30 days, any person vaccinated using another vaccine (Pfizer, J&J, under the Sisonke study), and any person who has received a flu vaccine in the past 14 days.
Schools are, however, told to register the details of staff who are unable to attend due to having contracted Covid-19 in the past 30 days or have received the flu vaccine, as they will have the opportunity to be vaccinated until July 8.