The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, Sadtu, has welcomed Basic Education’s announcement that teachers and support staff will be vaccinated starting from this Wednesday. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says more than 580 000 teachers and support staff are expected to be vaccinated over the next two weeks until 8 July.

They are expected to receive the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Sadtu secretary-general, Mugwena Maluleke, says although vaccination is done voluntarily, it is imperative for teachers to get the jab as they are frontline workers.

“There are 442 000 out of 482 000 have said ‘yes, we will take the vaccination’ and clearly it is that we have to continue to motivate all our teachers and all our support staff because they are frontline workers, and therefore they need more support for them to be able to take that particular decision. Yes, of course, vaccination is voluntary, however, we want to say as a union that vaccination works, vaccination is safe.”

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, Naptosa, also welcomes the announcement by Motshekga and says it hopes every teacher will make use of the opportunity to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine against the coronavirus in the next two weeks.

“What we wanted is that every single teacher irrespective of whether you are governing body paid, state paid or you are in a private school – that you must be vaccinated. But we also wanted every education worker vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, the President of the South Africa Teachers’ Union, Dr. Chris Klopper, says they are extremely grateful that this day has arrived and that everyone will be included.

Dr. Klopper speaks to SABC News with the basic education’s COVID-19 response plan in the video below:

Registration for teachers

Motshekga says the on-site registration of teachers and support staff for the J&J COVID 19 vaccine will not be allowed. This comes amid preparations to start vaccinating them from this Wednesday.

Motshekga says teachers must be registered with the department in order to get the vaccine.

Motshekga says staff from both private and public schools can get the vaccination, irrespective of age, over the next two weeks.

She says on-site registrations will not be allowed.

“There are stringent guidelines which we have been given by health that if you are on a PERSA, your details have already been captured on the electronic vaccination data system. Persons, not bulk uploaded on this vaccination information system, cannot be registered on-site. If it should happen that you’re not vaccinated, you have to go and register and come back having been registered on the system.”

Angie Motshekga provides an update on the basic education sector’s response to the impact of COVID-19 on schooling: 

Expected vaccine doses

The Department of Basic Education says another 280 000 doses of the J&J vaccine are expected to arrive next week for the inoculation of teachers, admin staff, and cleaners, taking the total number of available vaccines to 580 000.

“We do expect that additional doses will be made available and that those will arrive in the country next week. Together with the Department of Health, we’ve agreed that 280 000 of the additional doses will be made available to basic education and these doses are expected to only expire on the 8th of August; which means we will have enough time to do the vaccinations, as we have agreed, that we will conclude this particular programme within a period of 14 days,” Basic Education’s Dr Granville Whittle says.

Western Cape welcomes vaccination of teachers

The Western Cape’s Education Minister, Debbie Schafer has also welcomed the announcement that the J&J single-dose vaccine will be rolled out to all education staff from next week.

Schäfer says the vaccinations will hopefully bring some form of normality to the education sector.

“Vaccines are a vital tool in our fight against COVID-19. It is crucial that we avoid any further disruptions to our school calendar, as our learners are already suffering serious learning losses from the past year. The impact of these losses will be felt by our learners and the economy for many years to come. Vaccinating our staff will reduce the risk of them becoming seriously ill and make our schools safer places, giving us the confidence to return all our schools to normal timetabling. I urge all our staff to participate to assist in making our schools safer and getting back to some semblance of normality.”

Reaction to Basic Education Minister’s COVID-19 address: