The Covid-19 vaccination phase for teachers kicked off on Wednesday June 23 at the Pinelands Emergency Medical Services (EMS) site.
Fifty teachers got the Johnson & Johnson jab at the launch, including Riefqah Sasman, an English teacher at Heideveld Senior Secondary School, who was the second teacher to be vaccinated at the launch.
“I was very nervous before I went,” she said. “I was one of the people who said that I would never get vaccinated, but now I feel much more at ease. I encourage all teachers to go for it so that we can all be protected and protect others, ahead of the pupils’ full-capacity return in July. The sooner we are vaccinated, the sooner teaching can go back to normal.”
She said that while many teachers felt unsure about the return of pupils at full capacity, one had to weigh the pros and cons.
She said that she had felt a bit drowsy after the vaccination and her arm was still a bit sore but other than that she had had no side effects from the vaccine.
Ms Sasman, 42, from Surrey Estate, is also a former winner of a provincial teaching award for excellence in technology-enhanced teaching and learning and is well known for her work in online teaching and learning. (“Top teacher brings technology to classroom,“ Athlone News, Nov 13, 2019)
She created a website for pupils so that their learning could continue online during the pandemic and she was part of the team at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute that ran an online course to help teachers work remotely. She also creates English first additional language lesson plans and content for the Western Cape Education Department’s ePortal for Grades 10 to 12.
Premier Alan Winde said that as of 1pm on Thursday June 24, the Western Cape had 14 844 active Covid-19 infections and 12 179 deaths.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer urged all eligible staff in the basic education sector to get vaccinated.
She said that while the vaccine would not necessarily stop staff from getting Covid-19, and they would still have to follow safety measures, it would protect against serious illness.
“We have lost so many to this pandemic. Let us do all we can to keep our staff and our schools safe,” she said.
The Pinelands EMS site will administer 1100 vaccinations a day to all teachers, non-teaching staff and education officials, while the Tygerberg Hospital site will ramp up to 1 400 a day. A further 27 sites are dispersed across the province, dispensing 20 to 250 vaccinations a day. The sector rollout will end on Thursday July 8.
“Our health workers have served our residents with passion and commitment, without giving up, through one of the greatest challenges our country has ever faced. They have approached this rollout with the efficiency and grace that is the hallmark of healthcare in our province, and we are grateful for their continued support,” Ms Schäfer said.