Pupils will be vaccinated if health department gives order and parents consent, says Angie Motshekga

26 July 2021 - 11:00
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga says the vaccine may be given to school children in future. File photo.
Image: GCIS Basic education minister Angie Motshekga says the vaccine may be given to school children in future. File photo.

The department of basic education will not oppose the vaccination of pupils if the national health department issues that directive, minister Angie Motshekga said at the weekend. 

She said the department would need to get parental consent to facilitate the vaccination process. The minister was giving an update on the department's readiness to reopen schools as SA passes the peak of the third wave. 

“If health says learners must be vaccinated and parents consent, we will work on the logistics. Even with the teachers, we work with mobilising and on the logistics, but it's not in our hands to decide on who gets vaccinated where and when.

“I'm aware that other countries are already beginning to consider the vaccination of young people. We will learn from them and see what we do as a country. We will do what we have to do, advised by the interministerial advisory committee,” said the minister.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts recently concluded that the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine is suitable for use by people aged 12 years and above. It says vaccine trials are ongoing to establish the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines on children younger than 12 years. 

The centre for disease control and prevention (CDC) in the US recommends the vaccination of people who are 12 years and older.

It encourages parents to ensure that unvaccinated children up to the age of 12 wear masks in public places. 

Motshekga said pupils have lost about two years of learning since the pandemic started.

“It's very devastating. Last year we lost 75% of teaching time but in terms of learning, it's even worse than the time we lost. If nothing happens drastically, we're going to face a catastrophic future with the generation we have. Schooling is supposed to be 12 years. It's just too much and very dangerous for the future of our country and children,” she said.

Motshekga's briefing preceded the national address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday evening, who confirmed that schooling would resume on Monday. The president said this should be done under strict safety measures as announced by the minister.