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Sunday, December 5, 2021

All systems go for the basic education vaccination programme

NALEDI SHOTA|

Plans are under way to vaccinate about 582 000 people in the education sector from Wednesday.

The department of basic education released a document on Saturday that show the intricacies of how they, together with the department of health, plan to inoculate public and private school teachers as well as support staff at schools across the country.

Inside Education has seen the sector’s vaccine plan document. It states that the majority of the people that are going to be vaccinated are teachers in public schools at 395 682.

The majority of these teachers are found in the Eastern Cape (52 844), Gauteng (71 276) and KwaZulu-Natal (92 995). 

There are 40 100 teachers from private schools that will be vaccinated. 

While there are 104 111 non-educators’ staff at public schools that will receive the jab, followed by 42 671 school governing body employed teachers, Early Childhood practitioners employed at public schools.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said 90 480 jabs would have been administered nationally in the next two weeks. She said this number includes all teachers in public and private schools as well as administrative and support staff in public schools. 

READ: Union calls for educators not to go to work for two days

Acting Director-General at the department Granville Whittle said that the details of all people employed by government and of SGB employed teachers, as well as those teachers from private schools has been provided to the Department of Health. He said as a result, these people do not need to register to vaccinate. 

However, he said anyone not registered on the system will not be vaccinated.  

“We are talking to health about exceptions that we can pick up as part of a mop up,” he said. 

Whittle said the process of vaccination will also include people over 60 even though they do qualify at the moment for the general population programme. 

The distribution of vaccines to the provinces happened on Monday and Tuesday. 

According to the vaccination programme document, there will be 281 sites nationally. KwaZulu-Natal has the most sites at 69, followed by the Eastern Cape (41), Limpopo (37) and Free State (29). 

On Saturday there were concerns that Gauteng did not have enough sites. However, in a statement released on Monday, the Gauteng Department of Education said it had increased its vaccine sites to 46, up from the 25 previously reported.

Whittle said mobile sites, instead of fixed sites, will be used in provinces such as the Eastern Cape in order to accommodate people in far flung rural areas.

He said the Eastern Cape has identified a lot of schools as vaccination sites. 

“We are very happy with the progress of the Eastern Cape,” he said. 

He added that the Free State province is at an advanced level in terms of its sites and that the department did not expect any problems in that province. This was the same with KZN. 

Whittle raised concerns about the preparedness of the Northern Cape. He said because of the geographic size of that province, “we are concerned about the long distances so there is additional support that we will provide to the Northern Cape”. 

The department will liaise with principals about the appointment of the school for vaccination. 

READ: The basic education sector to start its vaccination programme on Wednesday

The vaccination plan document states that teachers will not be provided with transport to vaccination sites. 

However, Whittle said schools have been encouraged to make a plan for teachers who might not have the means to reach the sites. 

“We are saying to schools that when it is difficult for teachers to access these sights on their own, then they make a plan to ensure that teachers get to the sites,” he said.  

Uber has offered 100 000 free rides to teachers in the metros to get into the vaccination sites, according to the vaccination plan document. 

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi will be vaccinated with the first batch of educators in the province on Wednesday at Rabasotho Community Hall in Tembisa.

In a statement spokesperson of the Department of Education Steve Mabona said Lesufi will be joined by the Head of Department Edward Mosuwe, senior management, and representatives from various teacher unions. 

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal department has said that MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu will be making a “ground-breaking announcement” on the vaccination of teachers on Wednesday in Umlazi. 

In a statement released on Monday, Motshekga said for the two weeks school communities need to “drop all and vaccinate”.

“We need to work extremely hard and around the clock to vaccinate as many people as possible as sector,” she said. 

READ: Basic education minister says not to worry about the return of school children to full-time classes

In an interview with Inside Education, a teacher based in the Free State who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised said he is willing to be vaccinated.

“We were sent messages by the department [of basic education] and were asked whether we want to be vaccinated or not. The consensus is that we want to be vaccinated because the kids (sic) carry diseases, so it is very easy to fall sick when you work with children.

“The main concern is around the vaccines that will be used. We do not want the contaminated vaccines that we heard about last week or even the ones that were found to cause blood clots.

“Having said that, everybody is willing. We are willing participants in this. However, we are just worried about the fact that they might give us vaccines that have not been properly tested,” said the teacher.

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