Busisiwe Nhlebela from Mandlethu High School in Inanda gets the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the KwaMashu sports centre yesterday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)
Busisiwe Nhlebela from Mandlethu High School in Inanda gets the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the KwaMashu sports centre yesterday. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo African News Agency (ANA)

KZN Education Department’s vaccination drive yields positive results, thousands of teachers get the jab

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Jun 24, 2021

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DURBAN - THOUSANDS of teachers and support staff flocked to various vaccination sites in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday as part of an ambitious programme to inoculate education employees.

During the launch of the KZN Education Department’s vaccination drive at the KwaMashu Sports Centre, the department revealed that it was aiming to vaccinate more than 127 000 teachers and support staff over a twoweek period.

Hundreds of department employees from the Pinetown District pitched up at the centre to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in a drive led by Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane.

Mshengu said that working with the Health Department, they had established 70 vaccination centres across the province.

“We expect educators to be at the forefront in communicating the positive message about the importance of vaccination.

“This will help in dealing with the theories and myths in society,” said Mshengu.

At the KwaMashu centre, Mshengu said they were expecting to vaccinate over 500 workers.

Mshengu also acknowledged hesitation from some staff, saying they could not force the vaccine on those who did not want to be vaccinated.

However, he warned that the department had decided that teachers who did not get vaccinated would not be allowed to work remotely.

“You can’t get that benefit of working from home, you will have to come to school.

“There are certain things that you cannot claim, like saying you have co-morbidities and you want to work from home. You won’t be able to do that because the government has provided an opportunity for you to vaccinate,” he said.

He said they believed that educators would present themselves in numbers to be vaccinated, and they would continue with the advocacy programmes.

SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said more vaccination centres were needed.

Caluza said the main concern was around the distance one would have to travel as the number of centres did not take into account the vastness of the districts in the province.

“KZN is a rural province and there is a need for both the Health and Education departments to reconsider the number of centres in each district.

“In the Amajuba district, there are only two centres, Newcastle CBD and Madadeni. How about teachers from Utrecht and Dannhauser?

“Not all workers have vehicles and in other areas, public transport is not that functional,” she said, adding that teachers should vaccinate to manage the spread of Covid-19.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley also encouraged teachers to vaccinate to ensure the safety of pupils and their families.

“If you do not vaccinate, you are going to be in a worse situation, come the full return of pupils in schools. Furthermore, you can’t hold the department accountable for any kind of health risk you are exposed to at the school,” said Moodley.

Dheshani Govender, a Grade 3 teacher from Barracuda Primary School in Newlands East, said she was over the moon to receive the vaccine.

“I’m very happy to be here, and this is a stepping stone to a new and safe era. We are fighting against Covid19 to bring back all our learners, which is something I’m excited about. We need to protect ourselves, and this is the first step we need to take against Covid-19,” said Govender.

Lindiwe Buthelezi, a Grade 1 teacher from Duduzane Junior Primary School in Ntuzuma, said during the second wave, she caught the virus and nearly lost her life.

“I’m happy that I got vaccinated today, even though I was a bit scared because of everything being said on social media.

“Nothing happened, the nurses are good and I’m also feeling well. I’m proud that I will be able to work with my children (pupils) feely, with no worry and knowing that I won’t be putting their lives at risk,” Buthelezi said.

THE MERCURY

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