KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala on Monday said the province will begin a Covid-19 vaccination drive for teachers this week.
This follows the rise of Covid-19 infections in the country, particularly related to the safety of teachers as more pupils return to the classroom in July.
Vaccines for teachers
Preparing for a third wave
Zikalala said vaccines will be made available to teachers and support staff, and explained that the provincial government’s “main focus is to accelerate vaccination and stay highly prepared, should a third wave hit us”.
“These teachers will be guided by management in their respective districts and circuits, regarding which sites to go to, in order to get vaccinated”.
He said an additional 21 vaccination sites would be added to the existing 124 public and 18 private sites.
Some of the vaccination sites will be opened over weekends as most teachers work from Monday to Friday.
As reported by eNCA, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) pushed for the roll-out to kick off on Wednesday while calling on the government to vaccinate all support staff and groundsmen.
Vaccine roll-out ‘hiccups’
Naptosa chief executive in the province, Thirona Moodley, said: “Teachers need to feel safe and protected to be productive in the classrooms.” The next batch of students will return to the classroom on 26 July.
When asked if the J&J vaccines will be approved before the roll-out on Wednesday, National Teachers Union (Natu) general secretary Cynthia Barners said the vaccines would have been released on Monday. However, Barnes added:
“Unfortunately, we also heard there are hiccups, so we are still waiting. We understood our members, the teachers, were supposed to be vaccinated on [9 June]”.
The J&J doses cannot be released before the US Food and Drug Administration concludes its investigation, following a case in March when production facilities were found to be below standard.
Barnes said they will be “patient and wait for the legit vaccine”, but expressed concern over “segregation between teachers and cleaners” and various age groups as they will be in contact with each one another.
“We understand that [the department] will be vaccinating teachers from 40 years of age and above. Why is there segregation of teachers? What about those teachers below the age of 40 but with co-morbidities? Because they are also going to suffer the consequences.”
At least 500,000 J&J vaccines have been set aside for the education sector. Teachers, cleaners and other school support staff will be vaccinated this month. National Teachers Union general secretary Cynthia Barnes speaks to @MasegoRahlaga #DStv403 pic.twitter.com/G8s9rj2Iwv
— eNCA (@eNCA) June 7, 2021
Second dose of Pfizer vaccines
In other news, government confirmed the second dose of Pfizer vaccines will be administered after six weeks (42 days) as the available data shows the efficacy of the vaccine.
“You are urged not to return for your second dose before 6 weeks/42 days from your first dose, as you will not be vaccinated until the 42-day period is over.”
Goverment also calls on South Africans to wear masks, practice sanitising and maintain social distance in order to curb the rise of new infections.