Education department will expand immunization program as more people are added to the vaccine list

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said 400,000 workers in the sector have been vaccinated since June 23. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla


The basic education department will ask the health department for an extension of its vaccination program as it will not meet its target this week after adding more staff to be vaccinated.

Education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga told City Press on Wednesday that the two departments were to meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the extension.

On Wednesday morning, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, visited the vaccination site of the Gallagher estate in Midrand to observe the progress of the vaccination program. She said 400,000 workers in the sector had been vaccinated since June 23. It was originally planned that the program would end on July 8 with

582,000 teachers, support staff from provincial and national directorates, union leaders and their staff as well as CEMs vaccinated by then.

However, Motshekga said the number was now 789,554 and that included food handlers in schools, cleaners, support staff from independent schools and early childhood development staff on the premises of the. school.

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She said the Department of Health had offered additional doses for the program. “Yesterday [Tuesday] and today [Wednesday] we are finalizing the data upload and confirming with the provinces that all additional people can now be vaccinated, ”Motshekga said.

The extension of the program would allow those who had missed the opportunity to be vaccinated initially to be vaccinated.

When the department announced its vaccination schedule three weeks ago, it said those who had tested positive for Covid-19, and people who had taken the flu vaccine, would not be vaccinated.

While some provinces have reported smooth procedures, others have not. Over the weekend, the Eastern Cape Education Department, which aimed to immunize 75,769 people, said 50,321 had received the vaccine. Limpopo said it had vaccinated 46,259 teachers and support staff. KwaZulu-Natal’s target was 127,225 and, as of Monday, the province had vaccinated 96,039 people.

As of Sunday, the North Cape had only reached 50% of the target population, which according to the department’s report was 14,452. As of July 2, it had vaccinated only 7,688 people.

In Gauteng 9,113 teachers and support staff refused to be vaccinated. However, Mhlanga said they were not sure people refused to be vaccinated. He said no research had been done to establish the reasons for the vaccine reluctance.

In some cases, people did not show up because they had the flu, while others may be pregnant and hesitant to get the vaccine because they did not know if it was safe for their baby. to be born.

They just don’t show up, not necessarily because they don’t want to be vaccinated, there is no reason given

Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga

“They just don’t show up, not necessarily because they don’t want to be vaccinated, there is no reason given,” Mhlanga said.

He added that in some cases, people’s contact details were entered manually because they did not appear in the Electronic Immunization Data System (EVDS). Gauteng had many people whose details were captured manually.

Mhlanga said the process to move the data from the manual to the electronic was slow, and because these people did not appear on the EVDS, provinces might think they had not vaccinated, which did not was not always the case.

He also said ordinary people were turned away from vaccination sites because their names did not appear on the EVDS.

“We can’t say for sure how many people don’t arrive because they don’t want to be vaccinated because every day we have people saying ‘I’ve been turned away two or three times, I’m tired now I don’t wanna go, because he says my name isn’t there. ‘

This experience that you had and were repressed is not recorded anywhere, so you are not counted.

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“But out of our total population of teachers, we count you and when we don’t see your name on the list of those who have been vaccinated, we say you hesitate but you went to the center and you were turned away. The extension will help us reconcile all of those things that we don’t understand right now, ”Mhlanga said.

Motshekga reiterated the position that once the vaccinations are over, all teachers should return to school. Last year, the department allowed some teachers with co-morbidities to work from home. However, Motshekga said that because everyone in the area had the opportunity to be vaccinated, no one should now be working from home.

“We have 16,000 teachers who have been on special leave because they have comorbidities. We discussed this issue with the teachers unions, and all five that are part of the ELRC [Education Labour Relations Council]fully support this position.

The unions represented on the board are the Democratic Union of Teachers of the SA, the Union of Professional Educators, the National Union of Teachers, the National Organization of Professional Teachers and the Union of Teachers of the SA.

Motshekga said the department requested a special meeting with the ELRC on Friday to discuss a draft collective agreement following the implementation of the sector’s vaccination program against Covid-19.

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