The vaccination of 38 400 Limpopo teachers and other workers in the education sector has started. The vaccinations will be conducted at 37 sites in the province on Friday and Saturday.
Limpopo begun its vaccination of teachers on Friday as it first wanted to wrap the vaccinations of the elderly. Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, monitored the process at the Pietersburg Hospital in Polokwane.
Hundreds of teachers and other support staff began gathering at the hospital as early as five o’clock in the morning. While some expressed concern about technical glitches in the online registration process, most were excited to receive the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Education MEC, Polly Boshielo, also received her injection, which was administered by Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba.
Some of the teachers say they are happy to have been prioritised.
“I was helped by another sister. So, after vaccinating me she said I should wait outside for 15 minutes. I waited there, it’s not painful, it doesn’t give me anything. I’m fine now, I’m leaving, I’m going home. I’m happy thank you,” says one of the teachers.
The vaccination of teachers across the country began on Wednesday:
Motshekga says it is important to vaccinate the teachers to make the schools safe.
“To lose a teacher is to lose a huge asset in society, that’s why teachers mean a lot to so many kids. In a day, we sometimes interact with more than 100 children, so to lose a teacher is really to lose something big for that community, for that school but for society, it’s important for us to vaccinate to make schools even safer places.”
MEC Ramathuba has assured workers in the education sector of the effectiveness of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
“Some people were saying we are giving teachers Johnson and Johnson, the efficacy, percentage, compared to the Pfizer, I got the very same Johnson and Johnson. The same health workers I’m talking about, received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, they are here at work. So, let’s be honest, spread this message that vaccination does help. Yes, there’s no vaccination that will stop you from being infected, but all our vaccines will help you not to get sick, they will help you not to get hospitalised.”
Authorities say the remaining 22 600 teachers and workers will get their injections when the second batch of vaccines arrives.
Meanwhile, Minister Motshekga says they understand concerns raised by some stakeholders on the number of learners who have tested positive for COVID-19, but they want to first vaccinate the adults in the sector, as they are the super-spreaders.
Motshekga says learners will also get their turn to be vaccinated.