Education sector’s vaccination commences in the FS

Dr Tate Makgoe, Free State MEC of Education preparing for vaccination. PHOTO: Corn Koteli.

Free State MEC of Education, Dr Tate Makgoe, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister of Basic Education that teachers, cleaners and other support staff at schools will be vaccinated as soon as arranged with the schools. He explained that vaccinating teachers will reduce the risk of them becoming sick, while also making schools safer.

Makgoe has urged all teachers and non-teaching staff members to participate in the vaccine roll out, getting schools safer and back to some semblance of normality. Acording to him, the vaccine is a vital tool in the fight against Covid-19. It is crucial that any further disruptions to the school calendar be avoided as 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.”

The Free State Department of Education, along with the provincial Department of Health, has been making extensive preparations for the vaccine roll out and this past Monday (June 21) the HOD of the education department, Adv. Tsoarelo Malakoane, has issued a circular to all schools advising them of the vaccination plan and preparations for the roll out.

All Persal teachers and staff members have already been captured onto the electronic vaccination data system (EVDs). The Free State province has 29 vaccination sites and the circular will outline the arrangements as to when staff will need to go to their designated site.

“Together with the Department of Health, we have held various virtual and physical information sessions with stakeholders, which include principals’ council, SGBs and teachers’ unions, informing them about our roll out plan,” Makgoe said.

Today (23 June), Makgoe and his Health Department counterpart, Montsheng Tsiu, officially launched the provincial vaccination of teachers and non-teaching staff campaign at Gonyane Primary School. When speaking to Moipone Molawa, a teacher at the school, she said she felt excited to get vaccinated because she had been waiting for this day. She highly recommended everyone get vaccinated. Another teacher added that getting vaccinated meant a lot to him because he once got infected with the virus to a point where he had to be admitted to the ICU.

“I am very happy that the teacher’s vaccination has started. I would really like to encourage more people to get vaccinated as their lives may be saved,” said Lynsie Pelser, spokesperson for the Public Servants’ Association (PSA). Mondli Mvambi, spokesperson for the Free State Department of Health, explained the target that has been set among people in the education sector (teaching staff and non-teaching) for the vaccine is 32 000. “In the first phase of vaccinating the education sector we will start by vaccinating about 16 000 people within the first five days. After that we will vaccinate another 16 000.”

Sazly Hartzenberg and Corn Koteli