Covid-19: Basic education department facing vaccine hesitancy among teachers

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A teacher getting a jab at the Rabasotho Community Hall in Pretoria.
A teacher getting a jab at the Rabasotho Community Hall in Pretoria.
Sharon Seretlo, Gallo Images
  • The Department of Basic Education is trying to convince staff to get vaccinated. 
  • So far, 333 000 education sector employees have been vaccinated.  
  • The department is working with faith-based communities to fight vaccine hesitancy. 

In an effort to deal with vaccine hesitancy in the sector, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has detailed reasons why it is important to vaccinate against Covid-19.  

Last week, Gauteng announced that nearly 9 000 teachers and support staff did not want to be vaccinated. 

Now, the national department is working with faith-based leaders to try and address hesitancy in the sector. 

READ | Universities to move online amid Level 4 lockdown

Teachers and support staff are being vaccinated with the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Vaccination is voluntary. 

In a statement, DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga detailed reasons why vaccinating was important for employees in the sector. 

These include: 

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

- Getting the vaccine will protect you from severe illness, hospitalisation and death from Covid-19.

- When you are vaccinated, your immune system will recognise the virus quickly when you get infected with Covid-19 and prevent you from becoming severely ill or 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.

- Our leaders in government, teacher unions, faith-based and other sectors have already gotten the vaccine. 

Mhlanga said so far 333 000 workers have been vaccinated.  

He said the sector aims to reach 582 564 teachers and non-teaching staff. But, vaccine hesitancy might be hampering these plans. 

READ | Lockdown: Public schools to reopen a week earlier because of early closure

Phase 1 of the vaccination drive targeted 300 000 employees. The target was met and an additional 289 000 doses were given to the department.

"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 ECD practitioners will be included in the rollout programme."

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