Teachers receiving COVID-19 vaccinations dependant on US FDA probe findings on J&J vaccine

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Teachers’ union Naptosa has confirmed that educators and other support staff at public schools are set to receive their first COVID-19 vaccinations this week. This will, however, depend on a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration on the release of millions of doses of the vaccines around the world pending the findings of a probe into the contamination of doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine at a plant in Baltimore.

The union says 500 000 Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines have been secured for the education sector and the roll out is expected to start on Wednesday.

South Africa has secured 30 million doses of the J&J vaccine, of which 1.2 million doses are awaiting release from the Aspen plant in Gqeberha.

Naptosa’s Basil Manuel says staff over the age of 40 will be among the first to receive the vaccine.

“We had a meeting with the director-general on Friday and there it was confirmed that 500 000 vaccines have been secured and that these will be for all education workers; not only for teachers but all staff and it’s all dependant on the FDA. It will happen by Wednesday or Thursday and we will get more confirmation on that today. And of course, this will happen in the education districts where the staff are located.”

Vaccine delay for teachers

In February, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said teachers would get vaccinated against COVID-19 in April.

“Teachers, when do we get them to participate? In the next phase starting from April, we will actually be ready when the first batch of a large number of vaccines will be coming. That will be our Phase-2. Notice that it would have started a month or so earlier than what we had originally planned. And so, we are doing so because we just want to make sure that all our people feel they are properly protected and so they will be part of that. All the front-line workers will get the vaccine, we’ll work together with them,” Mkhize said.