Home South African Union calls for teachers to be priority during roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine

Union calls for teachers to be priority during roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine

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Meeting scheduled with the Education Department to discuss the matter

File picture: Mark Lennihan/Reuters

TEACHERS should be a priority during roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine, according to the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), which has urged that they be fast-tracked.

According to the union’s director, Basil Manuel, many other unions shared their sentiment, and they are scheduled to meet with the Education Department to discuss the matter.

One of the reasons behind their proposal, Manuel said, was to ensure teachers could work and so save the 2021 academic year.

Naptosa said, however, that it did not want teachers to get the vaccine ahead of health care workers.

“It is ethical and fair that health medical workers should be first.”

The South African Democratic Teachers Union said it was worried about the rising number of Covid-19 infections and, should they not drop within the next 14 days, not all grades could be accommodated at the same time when schools reopen.

“Teachers should be prioritised in the vaccine roll-out,” said Maluleke.

Meanwhile the Education Department will not be putting teachers under pressure to get the vaccine.

The department’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli said the law did not allow them to force teachers to be vaccinated if they did not want it.

Mweli said they would, however, encourage teachers to take advantage of the vaccine when it was their turn.

“For now, it will be the best way to manage the spread and deal with the pandemic. All teacher unions were at the forefront saying teachers must be considered as front-line workers, pushing to receive the vaccine first.”

In two weeks’ time public schools are due to reopen for the first time under the adjusted Level 3 lockdown restrictions, and as infection numbers continue to rise, the countdown is causing anxiety.

During a media briefing just over a week ago, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize presented South Africa’s vaccine roll-out strategy, saying the first phase would target front-line health care workers.

Teachers fall into the second phase as essential workers. This phase will also include persons in congregate settings such as prisons, the elderly and those over the age of 18 who have comorbidities.

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