With the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is looking at ways to increase vaccination rate among school pupils in the province.
In October this year, Individuals between the ages of 12 and 18 years old became the latest age cohort to be included in South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination roll-out plan. Since the announcement, more than 417 000 adolescents chose to get vaccinated against the virus.
GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona revealed that the school Covid-19 vaccination drive will not only target students, but whole school communities. This could boost the vaccination rate before the upcoming school holidays and festive season.
Mabona is also calling on parents to encourage their children to get vaccinated. He said, “we want parents to be our advocates of this messaging, hence we are not going to alienate them. We still need their consent because it is their children, so the process of them consenting is more of us consulting with them”.
Last Month Department of Basic Education (DBE) spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga said that schools will not be used as vaccination sites for adolescents. He explained that this would cause further disruptions to an already shortened academic year. Mhlanga did however call on students to get vaccinated once their examinations were concluded.
With exams concluding soon, this would be an ideal time to vaccinate members of the school fraternity.
The Ballito Rage, a five-day event targeted at matriculants who have completed their examinations, is scheduled to go ahead despite calls for it to be canceled. The event’s organisers have said that strict Covid-19 protocols will be observed by all attendees. This includes requiring all both staff and attendees to provide proof of vaccination while also being subjected to Covid-19 rapid antigen testing every two days.
Mabona says that while it is concerning that the event will go ahead, he is warning the organisers and attendees to be cautious. He hopes that all the protocols that the oragninsters have promised will be put into practice during the event.
The GDE spokesperson also revealed that around 70% of learners who will be attending grade 1 and grade 8 for the 2022 academic year have been placed in schools.