The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has urged educators and staff to go to the vaccination sites to get their Johnson & Johnson vaccine injections during the sectors’ final week of the vaccination rollout.

In a statement on Monday, the department said the vaccination programme in basic education continued, even after schools went on an early recess last Friday, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country would move to Adjusted Alert Level 4.

The department announced that more than 333 000 teachers and support staff have since been vaccinated since the campaign started on 23 June 2021.

“Phase 1 targeted 300 000 to be vaccinated within the first 10 days of the programme. This target was based on the number of doses allocated of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the sector.

“By the end of day 1 of the sector’s vaccination programme, the Basic Education sector had vaccinated a total of 48 000 of the Phase 1 target. By 01 July 2021, over 100% (300 052) of the Phase 1 target had been met across the nine provinces or within 9 days of commencing Phase 1, [with] a total of 300 052 educators and non-teaching staff had been vaccinated,” the department said.

Additional 289 000 vaccine doses received

The department also reported that the sector has received an additional 289 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and these enables the sector to reach its overall target of vaccinating 582 564 educators and non-teaching staff.

“The Basic Education sector will continue to administer the remaining doses of the vaccine to cover the remaining 282 512 staff. In addition, support staff from independent schools, food handlers, screeners, cleaners and Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners will be included in the roll out programme,” the department said.

The department reiterated its call to all educators and staff to follow the schedules in each district, in order to ensure a smooth roll-out of the [vaccination] programme.

Hesitancy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines

Meanwhile, the department said it is aware of hesitancy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, and the sector is working closely with teacher unions, School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and other stakeholders to address it.

“The Basic Education sector is engaging experts and leaders of the faith based groups to address vaccine hesitancy in the sector. Getting the vaccine provides you with one layer of protection – you still need to continue wearing a mask, washing or sanitizing your hands and keeping physical distance from others.

“Together, these provide you with a complete package of protection. Vaccination is voluntary – the Basic Education sector will never force you to take it. You can, however, save yourself and help save others by choosing vaccination,” the department said.

The department said the sector vaccination programme will remain open during the week of 5-9 July 2021, where educators and staff can get vaccinated at their nearest vaccination designated site.

Their schools has the information on the nearest vaccination site.

Why getting the vaccines is important to you

• All vaccines used in South Africa have been tested and approved by South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), an entity of the National Department of Health created by government with the responsibility to regulate health products in the country.

• Getting the vaccine will protect you from severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

• When you are vaccinated, your immune system will recognize the virus quickly when you get infected with COVID-19 and prevents you from being severely ill or from dying.

• Get vaccinated, you will be doing it for yourself and your loved ones.

• When we collectively take the decision to get vaccinated, we take a step closer to returning to getting back to life as we knew it.

• Leaders in Government, Teacher Unions, faith-based and other sectors have already received the vaccine.

• Fake news and conspiracy theories are part of all vaccination programmes – always listen to the experts and the scientists.

For more information on the vaccination rollout, call the COVID-19 call centre on 0800 029 999.

Source: South African Government News Agency