Teachers, cleaners and other support staff at public schools to get vaccines soon
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Cape Town - Teachers’ unions have confirmed that teachers, cleaners and other support staff at public schools could be vaccinated against Covid-19 this month.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa executive director Basil Manuel said at least 500 000 Johnson & Johnson (J&) doses have been secured for the education sector, and the vaccine was still awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Initially, the vaccine was expected to arrive in the country last Saturday.
He said the challenge was that the doses have a window of three weeks for distribution and administration.
“It is anticipated that the vaccination process will commence tomorrow,” said Manuel.
He said beneficiaries would include all teaching and non-teaching staff in the public sector, including school governing body-funded personnel and the staff of teachers’ unions.
Manuel said personnel who were above the age of 40 would be vaccinated first.
South African Democratic Teachers Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said it was a joint effort by teacher unions working together with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to protect the future of children by allowing the teaching fraternity to be immunised.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga referred the Cape Argus to the Department of Health, stating “they (are the ones) handling all issues regarding the vaccination programme in the country”.
Health department spokesperson Popo Maja said nothing has been concluded yet. “There’s no vaccine here yet. This is still in planning,” said Maja.
National Association of School Governing Bodies chief executive Matakanya Matakanye said they supported the effort made by the stakeholders in education.
Matakanye said the association was one of the movers in the initiative for teachers to be vaccinated as front-liners, more specifically now that Grade R to Grade Seven learners were expected to return to normal schooling on July 26.
“We call upon DBE to do more in the protection of our children,” said Matakanye.
Educators Union of SA provincial chairperson André de Bruyn said it was hoped that the vaccines would not expire soon.
De Bruyn asked: “Where will the government find all these vaccines, as we are unsure at the moment if the FDA approved the J&J vaccines as being safe?”
He said the union was unwavering in its stance that should there be no vaccines for teachers, there should be no full-capacity classes.