The Department of Health announced on Thursday that over 400 000 educators will be vaccinated by the end of June 2021.
The department said 300 000 Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccines will arrive in the country on Friday.
On Thursday, the health portfolio committee held a briefing where the department’s technical advisor Dr Aquina Thulare said they want to get the vaccines tested and ready for use by next week.
Thulare said the J&J vaccines are set to arrive in the country by this week, following which, the department will meet with provincial health departments to finalise plans. He said distribution to provinces across the country is expected to start on Tuesday.
“The target group includes teachers, administrative and support staff at all schools, irrespective of age,” said Thulare.
Inside Education reported that there were delays in the vaccination of teachers after the US Food and Drug Administration ordered those 60 million doses be discarded with fears of contamination at the manufacturing plant.
As a result, two million doses of the vaccine stored in the Eastern Cape were destroyed.
Thulare said the Department of Health aims to vaccinate educators across the public and private sectors, school governing body members and administrative staff over a period of10 working days from Tuesday 22 June.
Thulare said the timelines are especially critical because the vaccines must all be used before the expiry date of 11 July.
“After the vaccination of educators, when the next vaccine batch arrives at the end of June – police, soldiers and prison warders will be next in line,” he said.
The department said it expects batches of 700,000 and 500,000 to land in the country. However, it said the dates are not yet set.
The vaccination come when the country is currently in the third wave of the coronavirus where numbers continue to rise.
In the past 24 hours 11 767 new cases were reported with 100 deaths across the country.
The hardest hit province is Gauteng with the highest number of cases reported on a daily which has resulted in the Gauteng Health Department temporarily suspending visiting hours at all health facilities in the province.
Spokesperson for the MEC of health in Gauteng Kwara Kekana said hospitals are under pressure with the number of Covid-19 cases in the province.
Teacher unions across the country have demanded that educators be vaccinated before primary school learners return to schools on a full-time basis from 26 July 2021.
“We want to consult with the department that teachers should be next in the line following those aged 60 and above to get vaccinated for Covid-19,” said National Professional Teachers Organization of South Africa’s Basil Manuel.
Manuel had stated that the union was concerned about the mental health of educators as 100% capacity causes panic in people during the time of the pandemic.