Vaccines for teachers: How free Uber rides for teachers work and four things you need to know about the rollout

23 June 2021 - 11:00
By unathi nkanjeni AND Unathi Nkanjeni
The vaccine rollout for teachers in SA is set to begin on Wednesday and run until July 8.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu The vaccine rollout for teachers in SA is set to begin on Wednesday and run until July 8.

Ride-hailing service Uber SA is offering 100,000 free rides to help school staff get vaccinated from Wednesday. 

The vaccine rollout programme for school staff kicked off on Wednesday and is set to run until July 8. 

To support government and reduce transport barriers for those needing to access the vaccine, Uber SA has vowed to transport school staff to and from vaccination sites. 

Speaking on eNCA, general manager for Uber Sub-Saharan Africa Frans Hiemstra said the ride service has distributed a link and voucher codes to the basic education department to verify staff. 

He said the 100,000 free rides will be increased if need be to make sure all staff are vaccinated. 

“The voucher will be applied to a maximum of R150 for one way, and another R150 for return,” Hiemstra. 

“We suspected R150 should be good, given how well the distribution sites are positioned.”

The free ride is part of Uber’s global initiative of offering 10-million rides to those seeking transportation to get vaccinated.

Who qualifies for the jab?

At the weekend basic education minister Angie Motshekga said 582,000 people will be vaccinated over the following weeks. 

She said the vaccination programme will include staff who transport children to and from schools, staff who support the school-feeding scheme, those who do remote learning programmes (TV and radio), staff of teacher unions and contracted staff who provide security, cleaning and other functions at schools.

Are staff forced to get vaccinated?

Motshekga said vaccination was voluntary but “highly recommended so everybody can be protected”.

“For the next two weeks, we make the clarion call to our school communities to drop all and vaccinate. For us to successfully complete this programme, we will need to keep schools open,” she said. 

Once vaccinated, can I stop wearing a mask?

No, vaccinating does not mean you can stop adhering to the non-pharmaceutical health and safety protocols. 

Motshekga said scientists told the department vaccines do not provide 100% protection against the coronavirus but they are very important in the fight against Covid-19. 

“We therefore need to continue to strictly adhere to the non-pharmaceutical measures to curb the spread of the virus,” she said.

Will schools remain open?

According to Motshekga, schools will remain open and the decision was made based on advice from the medical fraternity and public-health experts. 

She said school closures would be dealt with on a school-by-school basis.

“We believe schools must remain open and in saying so we are not insensitive to the concerns raised about the rising infections. The position is that we continue to handle Covid-19 cases according to the differentiated strategy, on a province-by-province, school-by-school basis,” said Motshekga.