Omicron variant: Gauteng plans to vaccinate pupils at schools

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  • Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says vaccination campaigns will soon be introduced at schools for those aged 12 and older.
  • He said increasing infections in the province were worrying as matric pupils gear up for matric dances and farewell events.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Saturday meet with the National Coronavirus Command Council, following the discovery of the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant.

Gauteng plans to undertake Covid-19 vaccination campaigns at schools in the wake of the new highly transmissible B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant and increasing infections in the province.

With the advent of matric dance events, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said increasing infections were raising concerns over pupils' safety.

"We encourage all those who are eligible to use this opportunity, and vaccinate as part of the drive to manage and mitigate the impact of Covid-19. In collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Health, we will be administering a vaccination drive in schools and communities targeted at learners aged 12-17 years old. We call upon all eligible learners to grab this opportunity and take the jab," Lesufi said in a statement.

ALSO READ | Omicron variant: Answers 'weeks' away, warns top scientist as 'unjustified' SA shut-out slammed

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) announced two months ago that children aged 12 and older were now eligible for the Pfizer jab. The approval came after the launch of South Africa's vaccine trial on children. 

According to the Gauteng health department, a total of 6 838 663 Covid-19 jabs had been administered as of Friday. At least 3 617 545 people in the province had been fully vaccinated, with most of them in the Johannesburg region.

"Indeed, the possibility of a fourth wave is becoming more and more inevitable. Therefore, the safety of our learners and employees is paramount as they complete this academic year. We plead with everyone in the education sector to observe all health protocols and vaccinate to ensure a safe and prosperous end to the year," said Lesufi.

The government announced a new variant - B.1.1.529, named Omicron - this week. This led to several countries moving to restrict travel to and from South Africa and other African countries, including Botswana, Eswatini and Mozambique. The charge was led by the UK, Germany, Spain and the Philippines on Friday.

The move has left several travellers stranded and helpless ahead of the busy festive season in December.

The strict travel measures were condemned by Health Minister Joe Phaahla, who said that they were against the norms and standards as set by the World Health Organisation.

On Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to meet with the National Coronavirus Command Council for an update on the Covid-19 situation.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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