/ 5 July 2021

The social development department is discussing vaccinating ECD, Sassa workers in current phase

Launch Of The Sisonke Vaccine Programme At Charlotte Maxeke Hospital In South Africa
There are enough Covid-19 vaccines in the country, but the roll-out programme has lost momentum, with a marked dip over the past fortnight, the department of health said on Tuesday. (Photo by Luba Lesolle/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The department of social development is in advanced stages of negotiations with the department of health to include social sector workers in the current phase of Covid-19 vaccinations. This would include early childhood development practitioners, and South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) workers.

This was one of the announcements Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu made at a media briefing on Friday.

At the briefing, the minister also made several other announcements, including how community nutrition and development centres, nonprofit organisations, old-age homes and care facilities would operate under level four lockdown.

“Our most immediate response is to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic and to prevent people’s situation from getting worse by intervening earlier and providing appropriate and timely services,” she said.

In response to the concerns of the early childhood development sector, Zulu announced that all early childhood development centres will remain open and in full operation, in compliance with Covid-19 protocols and guidelines. 

Provincial departments of social development will continue to pay full subsidies to early childhood development centres, she said. Zulu said the department of social development is aware that payments from the Covid-19 stimulus package have not been made to all qualifying applicants by the end of March. 

Zulu assured beneficiaries of the stimulus package that a rollover of funds is being negotiated with provincial treasuries, and payments are expected to be made in the next few weeks, pending confirmation from the treasuries. 

Zulu also announced that early childhood development centres that recorded incorrect information in their applications for funds from this package have been given a chance to make corrections. 

The online system has been opened for all early childhood development practitioners and services who have received text messages to correct their information, and Zulu appealed to them to do so urgently, as the system will not remain open for long. These corrections can be made by accessing the government’s early childhood development website.

Zulu also confirmed that early childhood development services were being transferred from the department of social development to the department of basic education. She reassured all affected parties that the transition will be conducted as seamlessly as possible. 

Regarding concerns about early childhood development practitioners not receiving their jabs in the current phase of the vaccine roll-out plan, Zulu confirmed that the department of social development is in advanced stages of negotiations with the department of health to include social sectors in the current phase of vaccinations. 

The workers from the social sectors that are being negotiated for include people who provide services to vulnerable groups, early childhood practitioners, and Sassa staff who work on the frontlines. More announcements on this will be made in the coming days. 

In the briefing, Zulu also addressed alcohol restrictions and the effects of alcohol consumption on the levels of gender-based violence, road accident deaths and the strain that alcohol-related trauma incidents put on hospitals during the pandemic.