Lesufi gets the Covid jab, urges teachers to get vaccinated
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Teachers and other employees in the education sector were the next cohort to be vaccinated against the Coronavirus after initial phases of the government's mass vaccination programme prioritised frontline healthcare workers and later, elderly citizens.
To date, at least two million people have been vaccinated against the virus which has now gripped the country since March last year, leading to a prolonged lockdown.
South Africa is also currently in its third wave, with most new infections emanating from the Gauteng province.
Lesufi was flanked by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla in Tembisa.
Lesufi, who got vaccinated earlier on Wednesday, called on teachers and other people in the education sector to get their jabs as soon as possible.
“If you check the Covid-19 infection numbers that are increasing in our schools, you will see that it is very important that we protect our educators. Every learner comes from a family and goes back to that family, and you don’t want the child to be carrying the virus to the family. If you can protect the children, you can protect everyone,” Lesufi said.
Recently, more than 20 schools were temporarily closed in Gauteng as numerous Coronavirus infection cases were confirmed. One of the more prominent schools was King Edward School in Houghton, which had over 60 pupils and a few teachers confirmed to be infected with the virus in just one week.
The Department of Education said it had set a target of over 125 000 education sector workers to be vaccinated in 10 days, between June 23 and July 8.
Of those, 71 726 were teachers at provincial public schools; 24 492 were non-teaching staff, 10 488 were SGB appointed teachers and Grade R practitioners in public schools are also eligible for the shots.
Just under 20 000 teachers employed at independent schools in the province were also expected to be vaccinated.
“We appreciate and endorse the decision to ensure that educators are protected. That is why, as the education sector, we are committing ourselves that we will cherish this opportunity and ensure that we complete the rollout in the time frame given.
“We know the queue for the vaccine is long and do not want to add to the delays.
“While vaccination is voluntary, the Department of Health highly recommends that all in the sector vaccinate so that everyone is protected from Covid-19, especially those with comorbidities, as vaccination jabs are said to reduce the severity of illness and possible hospitalisation in the case of one contracting the virus,” Lesufi said.
However, those who have contracted Covid-19 in the past 30 days, or those who have had flu in the past 14 days, will not be eligible for the jab immediately.
“We urge those who had been vaccinated to continue adhering to non-pharmaceutical health and safety protocols, including social distancing, regular washing or sanitising of hands and wearing a mask,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Gauteng Provincial Command Council, led by Premier David Makhura, is expected to give an update on Thursday on the province's response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and on the status of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, which was ravaged by fire earlier this year and has been closed ever since.