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SA’s plan to vaccinate over half a million school staff against Covid-19 gets under way

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The department has set out to vaccinate its 582,000 teachers and school personnel within 10 working days.

KZN kicks off vaccination roll-out for teachers at the KwaMashu Sports Centre. Picture: Sakhiseni Nxumalo.

SA’s PLAN to vaccinate more than half a million school staff in 14 days kicked off early on Wednesday as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga visited a community centre in Tembisa.

Motshekga, was accompanied by Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla, and Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

This roll-out comes at a time when the infection numbers in SA schools have been on the rise.

“I am elated, I am encouraged and I am hopeful (about) what we committed as the education sector, because we are the ones who put the time lines because we don’t want to disrupt schooling. When we close on the 8th we want to be done, so that when we come back next term, we are done,” Motshekga said.

Lesufi was part of the first group of education sector workers to get the Covid-19 vaccine jab this morning.

“We are targeting 125,000 staff members, 71,000 of those are teachers. We have incorporated everyone within the sector. I am feeling well after taking the vaccine. The regret part of it is that we have lost a lot of time. If we had this earlier, we would have recovered and protected the future of children,” he said.

Phaahla gave the assurance that there would not be a shortage of vaccines.

“There are 300,000 jabs already and, in the next week or so, we should be receiving another 700,000. So, those who will not be covered from the first batch will be covered on the second one. In the next 10 days we would have received 1.5 million doses,” Phaahla said.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Wednesday’s vaccination programme targeted officials because they managed the scheduling of the vaccination of teachers.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has expressed satisfaction with the vaccine roll-out programme in the sector but said there were concerns.

General-secretary Mugwena Maluleke said: “The concerns that we have received so far in KZN are basically in terms of communicating with the principals because the contact person in the schools is the principal.

“The other concern basically again is that they have not totally identified those particular centres that are for vaccinations, as agreed between the Department of Health and the Department of Education.”