The National Professional Teachers’ Union of South Africa (Naptosa) is determined to initiate vaccine rollout to 500 000 teachers around the country. This, despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States halting the use of the J&J vaccine following safety concerns.
The use of the J&J vaccine was suspended by the FDA after people in the 18 to 46 age group experienced blood clots after receiving the jab.
GREAT NEWS THAT VACCINE ROLLOUT IMMINENT FOR TEACHERS
Basil Manuel, Executive Director of Naptosa, said he was elated to hear from the Departments of Education and Health that teachers were next in line to receive vaccines.
The departments have allocated 500 000 J&J vaccines for the teaching fraternity in South Africa. Teachers and support staff are to be recipients of the vaccine rollout.
The Department of Health assigned the vaccines to teachers because the shelf life of the batch of vaccines South Africa has in its possession expires by the end of June. It also indicated the vaccine rollout was important as teachers may be vulnerable when all primary school learners return to schools on 26 July 2021.
CONCERNS THAT FDA SUSPENSION OF J&J WOULD HAMPER VACCINATION ROLLOUT
“We are elated that we are talking about education workers getting a vaccine. We are concerned that the FDA has not given the stamp of approval. Provinces are going full steam ahead with the planning for the rollout,” said Manuel during a SABC News television interview.
“We don’t want to sit back, then the vaccines do arrive and no planning has been made. Just given the sheer number of people involved, if we don’t have our ducks in a row, this could end up in a mess. It could be a waste of money given that these vaccines will expire in a short space of time.”
The Union feels at ease by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) nod of approval to use of the J&J vaccine in South Africa, despite the FDA pausing its use. Naptosa conducted surveys to ascertain teachers’ response to taking the vaccine. Findings showed 75% of teachers are keen to take the jab while 15% had reservations.
To teachers sceptical about taking the vaccine, Manuel said they won’t be forced to take it.
“We are concerned by teachers with co-mobilities. They will be vulnerable should they not take the vaccine. We have a golden opportunity here. Let’s make the most of it before it slips by,” he said.
The vaccine rollout is set to kick off at public schools and then move to private schools. Initially, teachers, 40-years and older will receive the jab.