No Covid-19 vaccine roll-out for teachers this week

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The Department of Health has dismissed the announcement by a teachers’ union that Covid-19 vaccination roll-out for teachers would commence this week

Spokesperson Popo Maja said the department was still mulling over the planning of vaccination for teachers and had not yet been given the green-light, Pretoria Rekord reports..

“There are no vaccines here yet. The matter is still in the planning process and no dates can be confirmed for the vaccination for teachers yet.”

This comes after the National Professional Teachers of South Africa (Naptosa) announced that the roll-out of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) for teachers would start on Wednesday.

Maja, however, said this was not the case as the Food and Drug Administration in the US was still reviewing the records of all J&J vaccine drug substances manufactured.

“This is a regulatory issue aimed at ensuring safety and efficacy of vaccines,” Maja said.

The halt of the distribution of the J&J vaccines internationally and from Aspen’s Gqeberha plant was due to a safety verification process after a production error at one of the vaccine manufactures in America, which prompted the assessments of all J&J stock worldwide.

According to a statement by Naptosa director Basil Manuel, 500 000 doses of the J&J vaccines were secured for the education sector and that the Department of Education had indicated to them that the doses were expected to arrive on Saturday, 5 June.

“The doses will undergo testing which is expected to be completed by Monday, 7 June. The challenge, however, was that the doses have a window of three weeks for distribution and administration of the vaccine. It is anticipated that the vaccination will commence on Wednesday.”

Manuel said the planning of the roll-out incorporated vaccination of all teaching and non-teaching staff.

For months, several teachers’ unions have been calling for the vaccination of teachers. The calls intensified after the Department of Basic Education announced that learners from grades R to 7 would return to normal schooling from 26 July.

The Department of Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department could not comment on the roll-out matter.

Pretoria Rekord/Sinesipho Schrieber