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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Teacher vaccination programme extended

The Basic Education Sector vaccination programme deadline has been extended to Wednesday, 14 July.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the extension became necessary when additional doses for basic education personnel became available.

“The extension will enable the sector to vaccinate more people but also to mop up where some sites experienced some technical challenges resulting in delays,” said Motshekga.

Adding that the sector has also seen a strong demand for the vaccines in recent days.

“Provinces reported that more and more people were coming forward wanting to be vaccinated. More than 200 000 more people have been added to the list of staff to get vaccinated,” she said.

On Thursday Inside Education reported that the national basic education department requested an extension to its vaccination programme.

READ: DBE requests extension for education sector vaccination programme

According to the Department of Health, 437388 out of 582 564 educators and staff have now been vaccinated in the sector since rollout began.

“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.

The department started its national vaccination programme on 23 June.

At the time, Motshekga said those who had tested positive for Covid-19 and people who took the flu jab, would not get vaccinated.

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.

READ: DBE minister addresses vaccine hesitancy

“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.

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.

According to reports, around 20 000 teachers were not able to get the Covid-19 vaccine during the two week vaccination programme because they did not meet the criteria. 

This could have meant that they currently had Covid-19, they had had Covid-19 within the last 30 days, they had had the seasonal flu vaccine within the last 14 days, or they were pregnant.

Motshekga said the extension of the programme would allow those who had missed the opportunity to get jabs initially to be vaccinated.

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