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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Education sector vaccination drive falls short

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Wednesday announced that it has officially vaccinated over 500 000 people in the education sector across the country.

This is only 80% of teachers the national department planned to initially inoculate and does not include the extra 200 000 more people for whom the department requested an extension in order to add them to its vaccination programme.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said last week that 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 at the time.

READ: Teacher vaccination programme extended

Things became even worse for those in the education sector wishing to get their jabs when some in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng province vaccination sites became affected by ongoing riots.

However, the department of health assuaged concerns of those in the education sector and said their appointments will be automatically rescheduled for those unable to be inoculated.

““Anyone who had been scheduled to be vaccinated at sites in districts or areas that are affected by the unrest are advised to defer their vaccination,” said National Health Department Spokesperson, Popo Maja.

Some teacher unions have expressed doubts at the statistics provided by the department while others said they hope more than 80% of the 582 000 teachers were vaccinated.

National Professional Teachers’ Organization of South Africa (Naptosa)’s Basil Manuel said Naptosa sincerely hope that is more than 80% of education staff were vaccinated. “We know there was a bit of a rush on centres but we are very happy with the outcome,” he said.

The Education Union of South Africa (EUSA) said it is dissatisfied with how the department of health and the department of basic education handled the entire pandemic.

EUSA’s Spokesperson Kabelo Mahlobongwane said South Africa needs to hop onto getting learners to be educated from home because the pandemic is here to stay.

“We have come to a point where we accept the pandemic to be an endemic, the department should have already rolled out how education can happen without having to go to school,” said Mahlobongwane.

READ: DBE minister addresses vaccine hesitancy

He added that the union was still concerned that the vaccines were still not safe.

Mahlobongwane said some teachers who have been receiving the vaccine have “mysteriously passed away”.

“I have seen reports of teachers who were healthy and young passing away after taking the vaccine. At this stage we don’t know if it is the vaccine but it is shocking to us that this is happening,” said Mahlobongwane.

Motshekga said those who were not able to get vaccinated during the drive should try and get vaccinated before schools open on 26 July.

Extra reporting by Nyakallo Tefu.

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