Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has asked the Department of Health to give the education sector an extension “in order to mop-up the outstanding vaccinations”.
Speaking to media on Thursday, Motshekga said about 400 000 people in the sector have been vaccinated but the numbers have increased.
“We initially targeted 582,000 people in the sector but we have now loaded 789,554 including food handlers, janitors, and support staff from independent schools and ECD centres located within school premises on the on the Electronic Vaccination Data System,” said the minister.
Adding that the department wants to use the time to conclude the programme properly in the sector accommodate those excluded on terms of the criteria outlined by the Department of Health.
“These include individuals who recently tested positive for Covid-19 and those who took the flu vaccine,” she said. These individuals were excluded from the initial vaccination drive.
Motshekga said the Department of Health has offered additional doses that the basic education will use to vaccinate other people in the sector, who were initially not included.
The vaccination programme in the basic education sector started on 23 June. According to the department, the education sector was initially allocated 300 000 doses to be administered over a period of 10-days.
“In the past two weeks we have visited different provinces, where we monitored the progress of the vaccination programme.
“We did so because we appreciate the fact that we were prioritised and we really wanted everybody who qualifies to be vaccinated,” said Motshekga.
She said getting the vaccine will protect those in the education sector from severe illness, hospitalization and death from Covid-19.
“When you are vaccinated, your immune system will recognize the virus quickly when you get infected with Covid-19 and prevents you from being severely ill or dying,” she said.
However, there remains challenges.
The minister said there continues to be discrepancies between people who are submitted and those who appear on the Electronic Vaccination Data System.
“Nationally, names appear on the database but there is a problem at the sites when people get there to get their vaccinated,” said Motshekga.
She added that her department has received reports of people having been turned away and some do not return as a result because they travel long distances to reach the sites.
She said another issue that has come to the department’s attention is that provinces have informed educators in independent schools and School-Governing-Body-appointed personnel not to go to sites until they are sure that they appear on the Electronic Vaccination Data System.
“This has slowed down the number of people turning up at the sites in this category,” she said.