Health Dept confirms consignment of J&J jabs to be set aside for teacher

Acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubani is expected to provide more details soon on how the vaccination rollout for this sector will be managed.

FILE: In this file photo taken on 5 March 2021 registered nurse Florisa N. Lingad holds a Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center established at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - The Health Department has confirmed that an initial consignment of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses will be set aside for teachers.

The Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism reported on Thursday that 300,000 shots for school staff should arrive by Friday.

Bhekisisa editor-in-chief Mia Malan reported that all school staff would qualify for the vaccine and there was no age limit for who will be vaccinated. After the initial 300,000, more jabs will be made available in the next few weeks for the school rollout.

Schools will be scheduled by the Basic Education Department for specially allocated sites, she reported.

Acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi-Ngubani is expected to provide more details soon on how the vaccination rollout for this sector will be managed.

GETTING READY AMID RISING INFECTIONS

Meanwhile, the education sector is preparing for the rollout of 300,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines earmarked for teachers and non-teaching staff.

Aspen Pharmacare CEO, Stephen Saad, said the Johnson & Johnson doses would be available from next week and said that more vaccines would make their way to South Africa to speed up what had been a slow start to the inoculation programme.

Earlier this week, teacher union Naptosa told Eyewitness News that it was relieved that teachers would get their jabs to avoid another shut down of school as the third wave infections rose. The vaccines will, however, have to go through the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) before the start of the rollout plan.

It’s understood that the Basic Education Department will provide the data of employees for registration on the Electronic Vaccination Data System. Public schools would be first on the list to get the vaccines while independent schools would be given the jabs when all teachers in the public sectors had all received theirs. No sites have been finalised at this stage.

Two days ago, Eyewitness News reported that there were more than 450 active cases of COVID-19 at schools in the Western Cape. Education MEC Debbie Schäfer on Tuesday said that with the province in the third wave, they were seeing more evidence of community-level transmission.

Currently, 148 school staff members were infected, and 314 learners had the virus. MEC Schäfer said while more cases were being reported by schools, the provincial Department of Health had indicated that the infections were linked to social events rather than school attendance.

More than a week ago, the Northern Cape Department of Education had for a fourth consecutive week recorded an increase in the COVID-19 infections at schools. At that time, 11 schools were closed in the province due to COVID-19 infections.

Meanwhile, last week Friday, the Gauteng government said that nearly 2,000 pupils in the province's public schools had tested positive for COVID-19.

As South Africa was officially in the third wave, concerns were being raised about the danger of schools staying open.

Naptosa said that anxiety levels may be lower the sooner the vaccines were rolled out to all public school staff members.

Additional reporting by Matuba Mahlatjie.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.