The roll-out of the first teacher vaccinations in the Western Cape kicked off at the Pinelands Metro Emergency Medical Services (EMS) site on Wednesday June 23.
Fifty teaching staff received their Johnson & Johnson jabs at the launch, which was opened by the provincial health department’s operations chief Dr Saadiq Kariem, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer and the Western Cape Education Department’s head of department Brent Walters.
Dr Kariem said the Pinelands site was the first of two vaccination sites in the metropole for education sector staff, with the other one at Tygerberg Hospital. Another 27 teacher vaccination sites would be set up in rural areas around the province.
Dr Kariem said they had received 26 400 Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Tuesday June 22, and that they were expecting to receive more by Thursday July 1. He was not able to confirm how many more.
Eugenia Paulo-Goagoses, 29, from Masiphatisane Primary School in Vredenberg, travelled all the way from the West Coast to become the first teacher to receive her vaccination.
“I was quite nervous coming for my shot because I don’t like needles, though it was not painful at all, just a numb feeling in my arm,” she said.
Ms Paulo-Goagoses encouraged her colleagues to get vaccinated. “If this is the solution for the crisis, hopefully this can work and our lives can go back to normal,” she said.
Ruschda O’Shea, principal of Sans Souci Girls’ High School in Newlands, also received her vaccine jab. “I am excited to get my vaccine, because it means that I can do my job now without any interruption or fear,” she said.
Ms O’ Shea said the majority of her staff had agreed to take the vaccine. “It’s not just about us, it’s about our extended family and the pupils we interact with,” she said.
Sandra Oliver, the vaccination site manager at the Pinelands EMS site, said they had 21 vaccination stations at the site. “It’s exciting to open this site for the teachers,” she said, adding that it was history in the making for her team.
Ms Schäfer said she was excited that the teachers could now be vaccinated. “They had to deal with a lot of fear, which is their own fear and the children’s fear and had to adapt to working in a different environment and changing their timetables and keeping their classes small,” she said.
She explained that, at the Pinelands site they would be able to administer 1 100 vaccinations a day and a further 1 400 a day at the Tygerberg Hospital vaccination site when it opened.
Ms Schäfer praised the provincial health department and all the health workers in the province for their tireless work. “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.”