Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Gauteng: Public and private school teachers are finally receiving their COVID-19 vaccines across the country amid the third wave.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga launched the start of the vaccination programme in the sector in Tembisa, Gauteng, on Wednesday.

The Minister said she is confident that over half a million teachers will receive their Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine before the end of the second term.

“I am elated and encouraged,” a beaming Motshekga told journalists.

She is optimistic that 582 000 public, private and school governing body-appointed teachers and support staff will be vaccinated in the next two weeks.

“We said we need two weeks because we don’t want to disrupt schooling and when we close on the 8th of July, we want to be done so that when we come back in the next term, we are done with vaccination.”

The Minister is optimistic that the education sector will meet the deadline.

“We don’t want to close on the 8th of July and still have vaccination issues.”

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who also got vaccinated, said he was feeling good.

He shot down criticism that government was vaccinating all teachers, including the young ones who may have no comorbidities.

“Teachers are people that give birth to all our professions. Therefore, you need to protect them because they take care of our precious children. If you check the numbers that are increasing in our schools, you’ll see it’s important to protect our educators,” Lesufi said.

The MEC described the choice to immunise teachers as a brilliant one, given the third wave that is ravaging the province.

“Every child [has a family] and you don’t want them to carry the virus to their families. It’s for the future and the economy of the country to ensure that young people are protected.”

Lesufi said government is determined to protect its citizens and procure the much-needed vaccines. Additionally, he encouraged all teachers to grab this opportunity to get vaccinated.

Health Deputy Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, said the move to prioritise teachers is important for the future of the country.

“Minister Motshekga fought very hard to get us where we are today. There was no single National Coronavirus Command Council meeting or the inter-ministerial meeting on vaccination where she did not raise the fact that it’s important that educators get vaccinated, so that they save the school year because of the time that has already been lost.”

Phaahla told the media that the country has already received 300 000 J&J vaccines and is expecting another 700 000 in the next seven days.

“We won’t run out of stock and will have no shortage to ensure that the full complement of the education sector is covered.”

According to Phaahla, next in line is the security cluster, which includes police and traffic officers, soldiers and public sector officials in the frontline.

Meanwhile, he urged youngsters to help the elderly to sign up for vaccination.