Teachers will be vaccinated against Covid-19 from April this year.
This was confirmed by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize during his briefing to the National Council of Provinces on the government’s vaccine acquisition and rollout strategy.
Mkhize said apart from the Johnson & Johnson vaccines that are used for the vaccination of healthcare workers, a large number of other vaccines are expected in the country in the next months to be rolled out in the next phases of the country’s mass-vaccination campaign.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Agency (Unicef) has called on governments around the world to ensure that teachers are among the first to receive the vaccines.
It says since the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on children’s education around the globe, vaccinating teachers would be a critical step towards putting it back on track.
Chief Executive of the South African Teachers Union, Chris Klopper, says the government has been dragging its feet in obtaining the vaccine.
“The government, and especially the Department of Health… they are dilly-dallying, just look what other countries are doing. The vaccinations are available. Go out and buy them and start with the programme. We are still contemplating what we must buy and how we’re going to roll that out. It doesn’t assist anyone. It comes back to the question of when this will be done. We have wonderful policies, wonderful papers that we draft, but when it comes to execution, we are found lacking.”