Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande announced on Friday that post-school education and training (PSET) staff aged 35 years and older will resume vaccination on July 24, marking the beginning of vaccination for some colleges and universities.
Addressing the media, Nzimande said his department’s Higher Education and Training Health, Wellness and Development Centre (HIGHER HEALTH) has made provisions with each site to vaccinate about 300 to 1 000 people a day, per site.
Simultaneous vaccinations will begin with the staff at the False Bay TVET College at a site in Woodstock, the South West Gauteng TVET College at a site in Roodepoort, the Tshwane North TVET College at a site in Centurion, and the University of Johannesburg at a site in Midrand.
HIGHER HEALTH will support the sites on the days of vaccination and will, with the Department of Health (DoH) and service providers, further open 12 more sites across Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town, Gqeberha and eThekwini from Monday, July 26.
This will cover over 120 000 staff from universities, TVETs and CET colleges in the next 2 to 3 weeks.
The Minister also emphasised the need to address fake news, misinformation and misconceptions around vaccination in an effort to fight the pandemic.
He commended the work done by Acting Minister of Health Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane as well as all institutions that are leading the vaccine roll-out.
Nzimande shared that, guided by the PSET vaccine plan, he has asked HIGHER HEALTH to develop a comprehensive communication strategy that involves all stakeholders in the PSET sector to mitigate vaccine hesitancy and other misinformation in communities and society.
“I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that it is imperative that everyone who becomes eligible for a vaccine takes up the chance to get vaccinated. Vaccines used in South Africa have been proven to be effective and safe,” he stated.
The infrastructure and logistics within the PSET sector will provide easy access to the country’s general immunisation plan and will reduce the load on the DoH’s vaccination points, Nzimande added.
He outlined that the department will be rolling out the Pfizer vaccines across all its institutions in the major metros with access to cold storage facilities.
Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be rolled out across rural districts as they require cold storage facilities at higher temperatures than Pfizer and other mRNA vaccines.
In this coming week HIGHER HEALTH will open an additional 40 to 50 vaccination sites with the DoH, across all other districts, for the vaccination of between 600 and 4 000 staff.
“Through HIGHER HEALTH, we will connect each institution with the nearest Department of Health-accredited site where vaccine supplies and vaccinators are in place. I therefore call on all staff from the age of 35 – full time, part-time, contracted staff (cleaning staff and security) and post-graduate students in teaching positions that are planned for this phase – to come out in numbers to be vaccinated through the PSET and the community vaccination programme,” Nzimande said.
Staff younger than 35 and students who live in residences, including in private accommodation, are earmarked for vaccination in Phase 2b, which will kickstart once the over 35 age group is completed.