The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said on Monday that more than 200 000 educators have now been vaccinated across the country.
DBE Minister Angie Motshekga addressed the media on Monday following President Cyril Ramaphosa ‘s Sunday announcement of the compulsory shutting down of schools from Wednesday. The decision was taken after the country saw massive spikes of Covid-19 infections across provinces.
In her address, Motshekga said the early closing of schools will not affect the teacher vaccination programme.
The minister was speaking during a media briefing held at Seemahale Secondary School in Botshabelo, Free State. The minister said she and her team were in the Free State as part of monitoring the vaccination of teachers and support staff.
“As you know the programme started last week and in this province good progress has been made. Learners in public and independent or private schools should be released for winter vacation on Wednesday, 30 June,” she said.
Motshekga said she was pleased with the programme and stressed that staff members in the education sector scheduled to receive their jabs next week should make themselves available although schools were closed.
Adding that her sector wants to conclude the vaccination programme by next week.
“The vaccination programme for the Basic Education Sector personnel, will proceed as planned; the workers are advised to adhere to their schedules, and strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols, as stipulated in the Regulations.
“Schools designated as vaccination sites, must remain open to continue with the vaccination programme. It is important that we all work together to complete the vaccination as soon as possible,” she said.
The minister added that , “If by the time we reopen, we still find out that there are still some teachers who have not been vaccinated, we will arrange with health (sic). But we are saying, any other person who has no reason, either flu vaccine, or Covid-19, who would not have vaccinated this time, we want all of them to come now.
“Because when we reopen in July, we don’t want to be running a vaccination programme,” she said.
Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe and the province’s Health MEC Montseng Tsiu both said they were very pleased with the turnout of educators and staff.
Tsiu said the province plans to inoculate 32 000 educators and staff in the province.
“We are hoping to vaccinate everyone by Friday so that we are at least left with people that will be doing mop up next week,” said Tsiu.
Tsiu said the province has 29 vaccination sites and 28 of them are on school premises.
The health MEC reiterated that those who were infected with the virus in the past 30 days or received the flu vaccine in the past 14 days were advised not to take the Johnson and Johnson vaccine as yet but were urged to register.
Motshekga said eight provinces will continue with the vaccine rollout on Monday to Friday.
The minister added that the Limpopo Department of Education has successfully vaccinated 30 000 educators and staff since Friday.
She said she was happy with the turn out so far and is satisfied with the turnout thus far. Adding that the department of health and the department of basic education remains hopeful that the target will be met as scheduled.
The vaccination drive began after 300 000 Johnson and Johnson vaccines arrived in South Africa, aimed at vaccinating teachers and non-teaching staff from both public and private schools.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said they want 582 000 education staff to be vaccinated by 8 July.
The Minister said schools designated as vaccination sites must remain open to continue with the vaccination programme.
“It is important that we all work together to complete the vaccination as soon as possible,” said Motshekga.