Motshekga instructs provinces to wrap up teacher vaccination programme
Share this article:
Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has instructed provincial education departments to wrap up the sector’s vaccination programme by Friday after the sector’s target to finish on Wednesday was not reached.
Wednesday was technically supposed to be the last day for the sector’s vaccination programme, where 582 000 educators and school staff from public and independent schools were expected to be vaccinated by today.
The programme started last month, using the Johnson & Johnson one-shot coronavirus vaccine.
Motshekga visited the Gallagher Estate vaccination site in Midrand on Wednesday where she said more than 400 000 people had been vaccinated in the sector.
“I’m glad that we still have numbers coming. We have some delays with the loading of independent schools, school governing body appointed teachers and janitors took some time. While we had hoped to finish today, we will not,” she said.
The minister said she instructed provincial education departments to complete the remaining about 182 000 individuals tomorrow and said that by the end of Wednesday she hoped the sector would have worked hard to reach 500 000 people.
The minister said that the vaccination programme started smoothly.
However, challenges arose with the vaccination of teachers not paid by the state, including independent school teachers and teachers who work for the state but are paid by parents.
“We had some delays and difficulties. That’s why I think we have not been able to meet our deadline of having everyone who chooses to be vaccinated,” Motshekga said.
Motshekga encouraged people to get vaccinated.
She addressed the myths that persisted in the sector and were making people fear the vaccines.
“We are close to 80% done with the programme, bearing in mind that some people have religious reasons why they will not be vaccinated, and we respect their choice,” she said.
She added that there were 16 000 education sector employees who were on special leave because of comorbidities. The teachers would be expected back at work when schools reopen on July 19. She said the vaccination drive should have given those individuals an opportunity to be vaccinated.
“When schools reopen, we will expect all our teachers, including those with comorbidities, to return to work.”
Discovery Health chief commercial officer Dr Ronald Whelan added that this week that they had vaccinated more than 10 000 teachers and staff in the basic education sector.
“We’ve made a small contribution to the 400 000 teachers and staff that have been vaccinated,” Whelan said.
SA Democratic Teachers’ Union spokesperson (Sadtu) Nomusa Cembi said the union wasn’t concerned that the vaccination programme was not meeting its target as Sadtu doesn’t want the roll-out to be too rushed.
“If the jabs are still available and there are still individuals who still haven’t taken the vaccine, then we see no problem with extending the deadline,” she said.