Cape Town - Sinsile Vapi, a Caretaker at Sonwabo Primary School in Gugulethu, put his fear of needles aside to be among the first group of people in the education sector to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Still dressed in his work clothes, 48-year-old Vapi, who has been working at the school for about 10 years, said he was motivated by his wife to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Pinelands EMS site on Wednesday, and had no regrets.
“I was informed by the school principal on Tuesday that we would go together to get vaccinated. The thought of being injected made me nervous at first, but I wanted to get it and my wife was also very supportive. The staff were gentle and I feel no difference than before the vaccine was administered. I encourage others to come, there is really nothing to fear people will see this is a quick process.”
Eugenia Paulo-Goagoses, from Masiphatisane Primary School, travelled all the way from Vredenburg on the West Coast to become the first teacher to receive the injection.
Paulo-Goagoses, 29, has the same fear of needles as Vapi.
“There is a bit of numbness in the arm but it was not painful. I didn’t even feel the needle while it was being administered, this was not bad as I had anticipated. I’m a person of faith so I believe this is a solution for this current situation, and hopefully it will help to bring back a sense of normality,” Paulo-Goagoses said.
Teacher Sarah Capstick-Dale of Good Hope Seminary said she was the only person who had not been vaccinated in her family, and was looking forward to it.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the roll-out was smooth on Wednesday, which could be attributed to a group of 50 people who were vaccinated.
The Pinelands EMS site will ramp up operations to 1 100 vaccinations a day, while the Tygerberg Hospital site will administer 1 400 vaccinations daily. They are the mass vaccination sites in the metro. A further 27 sites of varying sizes are dispersed across the province, and will carry out between 20 to 250 vaccinations per day.
The sector roll-out is expected to conclude on July 8.
“Education was one of the sectors that was hit hard by the pandemic. We have had so many disruptions and school closures over the past year due to Covid-19. Disruptions because teachers have to be vaccinated are going to be very minor compared with what we have seen. About 75% of the 55 200 want to be vaccinated,” Schäfer said.
Health Department chief operating officer Dr Saadiq Kariem said: “Measures taken to ensure the vaccines are not contaminated include recording the journey of the vaccine, and special fridges in the vehicles transporting them to the different sites have temperature control mechanisms. So it’s not just any distribution company that is chosen.”