Vaccine rollout: Concern as almost 10 000 Gauteng teachers, support staff refuse to take jab

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Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
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  • Teachers, support staff are expected to be vaccinated by 8 July.
  • The Gauteng Department of Education says 9 113 employees, others with underlying diseases have refused to take the jab. 
  • A total of 53 154 people in the sector have been vaccinated so far in Gauteng, the department says.

Almost 10 000 teachers and support staff in the Gauteng Department of Basic Education sector have refused to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

The department said 9 113 employees - some with comorbidities - had refused to take the jab.

It said this was "extremely alarming", adding that while vaccination was voluntary, the World Health Organisation encouraged people with an increased risk of contracting the virus such as the elderly, and those with comorbidities to get the vaccine in order to reduce their risk of contracting the virus. 

MEC Panyaza Lesufi said:

We are very worried that nearly 10 000 of our personnel in the Gauteng education sector are, for one reason or the other, refusing to be vaccinated against this deadly virus which has wreaked havoc in our schools and communities by taking away our loved ones.

The department started rolling out its vaccination drive a week ago aiming to vaccinate 582 000 people in the sector, including those from private schools by 8 July. 

More than 300 000 teachers and staff across provinces had been vaccinated by Thursday. 

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KwaZulu-Natal alone had vaccinated 85 620 people. 

Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said 53 154 out of 124 934 staff were vaccinated at 56 sites across the province. 

He said the numbers were expected to increase next week because of delays in capturing teachers and support staff in School Governing Body (SGB) posts and those from private schools were resolved.

"It is common cause that learners are on recess and, as such, in the coming week, sites will be conducting mop-ups to ensure that all outstanding personnel is vaccinated accordingly."

Refusal impacts rollout of programme in country

The department added that the reluctance to vaccinate was a threat to the government's efforts to normalise schooling amid the devastating pandemic and threatened the academic year.

"Educators were prioritised in this phase of the vaccine rollout and, as such, were expected to take advantage of this opportunity to avoid further disruptions and learning losses in the education sector because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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"This would ensure that contact learning continues and that no learner will be deprived of learning in a classroom with all the necessary curriculum resources needed.

Mabona said:

The refusal to vaccinate also impacts on the rollout reaching other affected sectors timeously in order for the country to develop 'herd immunity.

The department encouraged those workers who refused to take the jab to come forward and take part in the programme.

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga had previously urged all educators to join the programme. 

She said those who have not vaccinated because they had taken flu vaccine, or had tested Covid-19 positive, would be accommodated at a later stage.

Motshekga stressed that teachers should use this opportunity so that the sector could "return to normal".

She said all teachers were expected back at work after the vaccination drive for the sector is concluded. The minister said no teacher or support staff member in the sector would now have an excuse to not return to school.

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