Teachers Are Set To Receive Their Vaccines

On Monday the 21st the task of vaccinating 500 000 teachers and other school staff will begin. A consignment of J&J vaccine has been set aside for the task and the Health Department has briefed parliament on the detailed plans that are in place to get as many public and private school staff vaccinated as possible over the next 10 days.

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According to Dr Aquina Thulare, the department's Technical Advisor, who briefed the Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Health, announced that the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines will be used to vaccinate the teachers next week. 

Thulare announced that the aircraft carrying the consignment of 300 000 COVID-19 J&J vaccines was set to arrive at OR Tambo International Airport on Friday, 18 June 2021.

The batch has been approved for use in South Africa by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The distribution of the vaccine experienced a few setbacks after the FDA halted production following the investigation of good manufacturing practise (GMP) violations at the J&J factory in Baltimore, United States.

Due to these setbacks, two million vaccinations that had been produced were not fit for use in the country.

South Africa's vaccination distribution programme will gain momentum, as millions of vaccines are expected to be administered from this month.

Dr Thulare stated that “the School Governing Body (SGB) databases have been verified and private school databases have been verified,” adding that vaccination centres have also been identified.

Thulare also announced that a special Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) programme will be assigned to the education sector.

In the meantime, single-dose vaccines have already received South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) exemption on labelling and genetically modified organisms (GMO) certificates.

Dr Thulare announced that “the National Control Laboratory is ready to ensure that these vaccines are released on the 21st of June and will start distributing on the 22nd of June, and will start vaccinating immediately thereafter.”

It has also been confirmed that the expiry date of the vaccine has been extended. 

“The FDA did some stability studies on the vaccines they were going to supply to us and the expiry date has been extended by four weeks from the initial date,” said Thulare.

Dr Thulare is confident that the department will be able to vaccinate 300 000 education sector staff out of the 499 000 in 10 working days.

Thereafter, the 199 000 remaining staff members will be vaccinated with the additional 1.2 million J&J vaccines arriving next week. 

They believe that all educators will be vaccinated regardless of their age.

Thulare stated that the department is in discussions with the other sectors, including the South African Police Service, South African National Defence Force and Correctional Services. - SAnews

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