Schools will be opening soon which means that teachers will be in close contact with their learners once again. This is the reason why NAPTOSA believes that the government should include teachers in the first group that will receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Recently, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has announced that healthcare workers will be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Mkhize is expecting the vaccine to arrive from India this month and next month.
Healthcare workers have been prioritised since they work with many sick patients daily, however, teachers are in contact with millions of children every day, which why Basil Manuel, NAPTOSA executive director, believes that teachers are frontline workers too.
“We didn’t see the word teachers specifically mentioned but you’ve got to look at teachers because like it or not, teachers are also the caregivers of millions of children and they’ve got to look after those children so the economically active population can get on with the job. I’m saying we’ve got to judge everything by its merits,” says Manuel.
Sadly one of the matric examination markers in KwaZulu-Natal passed away after contracting COVID-19, which has caused concern among the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU).
SADTU has asked for a halt to the marking of these examinations, to ensure the safety of the other markers.
According to public health specialist Dr Kerrin Begg, research has shown that the vaccines have been doing a great job at combating the new variant of COVID-19 that has been the reason for many new infections in the country.
Thus far, the vaccines that have been developed are continuing to be effective against the new variant.
Begg has announced that although the variant has been slightly more resistant to antibodies, it is not enough to decrease the efficiency of the vaccines.
“From what scientists are looking at, the receptor-binding protein still appears to be the same and so while there are mutations on some of the spike proteins, it does appear that the antibodies produced by the vaccine would still have some significant impact on the virus. Remember that even if we get a slight reduction in the impact of the vaccine on the virus, it still will have a dramatic impact on the transmission of the virus and therefore the number of cases that we have and therefore the number of severe cases that we have. It will still be a significant impact to have the vaccine available,” said Begg.