Teachers in KwaZulu-Natal have heeded the call to get the coronavirus vaccine as number of teachers arrived early at the vaccination sites in the province. Provincial Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu, accompanied by his Health counterpart Nomagugu Simelane, visited the vaccination site at the KwaMashu Sports Centre in the north of Durban.

They say teachers in the province have shown an interest in being vaccinated.

The moment workers in the education sector say they have been waiting for, has finally arrived. They are getting the single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot.

Vaccine rollout for teaching staff begins in different provinces:

Mshengu says in areas where vaccine sites are far from schools, they will allow those schools to close for a day so that the staff can go to be vaccinated.

Mshengu says a large percentage of their employees have shown an interest in being vaccinated.

“In this centre today, in terms of our scheduling, we will be expecting just of 500 teachers, just in this centre. But in the entire programme, we are expecting 127 000 employees that will include educators, cleaners and everyone who works within the schooling environment. Those are the numbers that we are expecting to vaccinate in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and the mood is quite exciting; they are quite positive. An overwhelming number of teachers have said they will be presenting themselves for vaccination.”

Kwazi Mshengu on KZN Education’s plans to vaccinate teachers:

Possible side-effects

As the teachers and support staff are getting vaccinated, some say they have been waiting for their turn to get the shots.

At the KwaMashu Sports Centre in the north of Durban educators Sandile Mkhize, Caroline Gumede and Rachel Underhills say they will now work confidently in the knowledge that schools are a safe environment.

In Ladysmith, teachers Sharlene Pillay and Mbongiseni Mbuyisa say they know that sometimes there might be side-effects.

“I am not as nervous as I was before. It was a little bit painful, but just relieved that I have some protection against COVID-19. Just as we had measles vaccinations before, that this is the same procedure and you know, just as long as we are protected; that is the most important,” says Pillay.

“No, I do understand everything with regards to the vaccine. It is going to build my immune system. Should I contract COVID-19, then it will help me to fight the COVID-19,” says Mbuyisa.

Sadtu members on board with the jab

Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in KwaZulu-Natal says their members are on board to take their jabs.

Provincial Secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza, was also at the KwaMashu Sports Centre to monitor the start of the teachers’ vaccination programme. She says their members are excited to get vaccinated.

“We are all excited, our members are excited and they have been looking forward to this day. it is because they have hope in the vaccine even though there are many myths that said out there, misinformation and everything, but we are saying to them as teachers they have the responsibility to lead and to show the way. They are able to convince other people that this thing can be done. there have been many vaccines even before and any medication by the way has side effects. Even if this one today has side effects; it is normal.”

Although taking the vaccine is voluntary, Mshengu warns those who might decide not to take the jab that they will now be expected to work at their schools; they will not be allowed to work from home.

Teacher unions in KwaZulu-Natal concerned about vaccine rollout: