As schools are gradually reopening amid fear of Covid-19 third wave and lack of vaccines available for schoolchildren under the age of 18, the Government is planning to vaccinate all schoolteachers across India on priority before Teacher’s Day on September 5.
The Government said it will provide 2 crore additional vaccine doses to States to vaccinate teachers.
“In addition to the plan to provide vaccines to every State this month, more than 2 crore vaccine doses are being made available. We have requested all the States to try to vaccinate all schoolteachers on priority before Teacher’s Day,” said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan too has said that vaccinating teachers will reduce the disruption of the sector that has been hit severely since March last year.
“Schools across the country have been shut since March 2020. Students have been carrying out studies in online mode, however, due to lack of devices, lack of proper internet connection, many students have not been able to attend classes. Hence, vaccination for teachers is being prioritized,” said a senior official from the Union Health Ministry.
While countries like the United States, Canada, and now Singapore have approved vaccination for children, India is yet to roll out such a policy for its population below 18. The fear among parents has worsened as several reports suggest that children might be hit harder in the third wave of the pandemic.
There are over 80 million teachers across the country, but it is believed that a majority of them have already got their vaccine over the past few months amid India’s vaccination drive. Some States have already given teachers priority status considering their role in reopening classes in schools.
Even UNESCO had urged countries, including India, to prioritise teachers for inoculation. “While the protection of teachers is essential for schools to reopen safely, just 21 out of 197 countries-accounting for 18 million primary and secondary teachers-prioritize teachers in the first phase of vaccination efforts. Another 37 countries include teachers as a priority group for the 2nd phase of vaccinations,” the UN body had said earlier this year.