OMUTHIYA - The directorate of education has noted with great concern that despite many Covid-19 infections recorded at Oshikoto schools, teachers and eligible learners are still unwilling to get vaccinated. This was revealed by the acting inspector for the Omuthiya circuit Thomas Uupindi, who said the cluster has about 440 teachers, but only 40 have been vaccinated.
“This is an issue of concern to see that our teachers are showing unwillingness, although they’re one of the hardest-hit sectors and have seen schools closing due to surging numbers of Covid-19 cases among learners and teachers. Many of our educators have succumbed to this deadly virus,” he said while briefing various stakeholders led by Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Peya Mushelenga.
Mushelenga, who heads the information and publicity cluster in the fight against Covid-19, is undertaking trips to various regions to meet stakeholders as they further roll out the recently launched ‘Kick Covid-19 out of Namibia’ campaign.
The campaign was launched earlier this month by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to accelerate public vaccinations in efforts to reach the targeted 1.5 million people for herd immunity.
“We are, therefore, pleading with our educators that Covid-19 is real. Therefore, it needs to be taken seriously. Having taken note of their unwillingness, the directorate aims to put measures in place so that we can attain a target of 80% vaccination of teachers and all education stakeholders,” Uupindi added.
The Teachers’ Union of Namibia (TUN) has sprung to the defence of those teachers who are reluctant to get vaccinated, saying the approach of the ministry is politicised.
TUN secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha said they were not consulted as representatives of the teachers on how the vaccination could be carried out, and that the education ministry wants to impose its decisions. “They consulted whom they wanted, and decided what to do without our input. So, the teachers have the right to refuse. In fact, we only have two vaccines which are being rolled out, which gives teachers little choice as to what they would prefer, considering that there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the origin and authenticity of the vaccines,” he reasoned.
“So, basically, the minister and the executive director are shooting themselves in the foot, trying to enforce things unprocedurally. Therefore, this can only work if we engage each other for the wellbeing of our members. In the absence of that, the union will not budge to any of those requests against its members,” he stated.
In addition, Kavihuha said principals and teachers are at loggerheads as to whether to operate at full tilt or not. “The president and minister all made a blunder. How can they allow the full operations of schools without relaxing the social distancing regulations? Now, the principals want teachers to teach to full capacity, while teachers are refusing because they fear for their safety,” he continued.
With a population of around 200 000 in Oshikoto, there are 124 395 people eligible for vaccination. To date, 10 544 individuals have received their first dose of AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, respectively, while 4 865 are fully vaccinated in Oshikoto. Tsumeb is leading the vaccination with 11%, Omuthiya with 9% and Onandjokwe with 7%.
Oshikoto’s acting chief medical officer Saadi Rwehumbiza implored the community to come in their numbers as the vaccines have proven to be effective, as opposed to the conspiracy theories trending on social media.
“What is being said is a myth. The issue of men losing their erections after vaccination, as well as the so-called appearance of magnetic fragments, have all been proven to be false. These things do not exist, which is why many countries in the world are using vaccines because it works and it’s effective,” he urged.
Based on research, the few vaccinated individuals who succumbed were found to be at an advanced age, while some took the jabs while well-aware they were possibly infected.
Stay in your lane
Mushelenga also blasted anti-vaccine advocates to stay in their lane, and to leave those medically trained to disseminate information and undertake all programmes that concern Covid-19.
“Ironically, we find people saying those vaccinated will die in two years. How did these so-called advocates go ahead of time, conduct experiments and conclude that vaccines kill, yet this is the first time we have a pandemic of this kind?” asked Mushelenga.
“Stay in your lane. If you are a teacher, stick to teaching. Also, if you are a farmer, mind your dealings in that sector because that’s your specialisation,” he reiterated, further noting that there is a low turnout at some vaccination points across the country.
In addition, Mushelenga said it is a violation of one’s rights to spread false information which will deter somebody else from getting vaccinated.
“Equally, with many Covid-19 cases, we have seen its effects on our workforce and economy, where some critical individuals are away from work for a prolonged time, thus reducing productivity. Therefore, it’s wrong for people to be advocating otherwise, as such actions push us further into suffering,” he stated.
Caption: (Covid-19) Come through… Minister Peya Mushelenga and health officials observe as members of the community get vaccinated at the Omuthiya Clinic.
Photo: Obrein Simasiku