The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced the official launch of the COVID-19 vaccination program for the post-school education and training sector (PSET ).
Speaking to the media on the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccination for the PSET sector, the minister said the government will deploy the Pfizer vaccine to all institutions in large metropolitan areas where there is good access to cold storage facilities.
“We will be deploying J&J vaccines in our rural districts as it requires cold storage facilities at higher temperatures than those of Pfizer and other mRNA vaccines,” Nzimande said Friday.
Vaccination of PSET staff aged 35 and over will officially begin on Saturday, July 24, 2021. This age group, which comprises around 70% of all staff in the sector, is expected to be completed within a month.
“So tomorrow some of our colleges and universities, such as False Bay Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College staff at a site in Woodstock, South West Gauteng TVET College at a site in Roodeport, Tshwane North TVET College at a site in Centurion, the University of Johannesburg at a site in Midrand will start vaccinations simultaneously.
“Higher Health has made arrangements with each site fully dedicated to immunization for approximately 300 to 1,000 people per day per site. Higher Health will support the sites on immunization days,” the minister said.
12 additional locations in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town, Gqeberha and eThekwini will open from Monday July 26.
This will cover more than 120,000 staff at universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, and community education and training colleges (CET) over the next two to three weeks.
“These same sites will be extended to private institutions, the skills training sector, the sectoral education and training authorities (SETA), the Council for the quality of trades and professions (QCTO), the Fund National Skills Program (NSF) with a range of skills development providers.
“Over the coming week, Higher Health will open 40 to 50 additional vaccination sites with the Ministry of Health, in all other districts, for numbers of between 600 and 4000 people to be vaccinated,” the minister said.
Through Higher Health, the department will connect each institution to the nearest accredited Ministry of Health site where vaccine supplies and vaccinators are in place.
“I therefore appeal to all staff from the age of 35 – full-time, part-time, contractors (cleaning and security staff) and postgraduate students in teaching positions planned for this phase to come out in large numbers get vaccinated through the PSET and the community vaccination program.
“Staff under 35 and students who live in residences, including in private accommodation, are assigned to phase 2b vaccination which will start once the above 35 [year-olds] are completed ”, declared the Minister
He stressed the importance for all those who become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to seize the opportunity to be vaccinated.
“Tackling myths, fake news, misinformation and misconceptions about immunization is fundamental.
“Guided by the PSET vaccination plan, I asked Higher Health to develop a comprehensive communication strategy that involves all stakeholders in the PSET sector so that we can jointly alleviate reluctance to vaccination and other information Misunderstandings prevalent in our communities and society in general, “said the Minister.
He said the vaccines used in South Africa have been shown to be effective and safe.
“I would like to remind everyone that the key principles for beating COVID have not changed: social distancing; minimize personal contact; wear a mask; disinfect and now vaccinate, ”said the Minister.
(With contributions from the South African government press release)