News

Booster dose for all over-20s soon

  • Teachers’ TUs urge expeditious delivery to school staff, citing high risk of Covid

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Sri Lanka will commence the rollout of booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine soon, stated Minister of Health Keheliya Rambukwella yesterday (24).

He noted that further details would be disclosed in due course, while the Health Ministry is making the relevant preparations towards this end.

Earlier this month, Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena stated that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine would be used for the third dose and that its rollout would follow the same priority list designated at the start of the national vaccine drive.

In this regard, US-based Pfizer Inc. has agreed to supply Sri Lanka with three million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on a weekly basis, starting from December, announced State Minister of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana last Sunday (21).

On 17 November, the third dose rollout commenced for those over the age of 60, while last Saturday (20), the administration of the third dose to vaccinated individuals with co-morbidities over the age of 20 began. The Pfizer vaccine was used in all instances.

Meanwhile, teachers’ trade unions (TUs) have called on the Government to expedite the process of administering the third dose of Covid-19 vaccines to principals, teachers, and non-academic staff of schools, as there is a high risk of the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

In a letter addressed to Minister of Education Dinesh Gunawardena, Ceylon Teachers’ Service Union (CTSU) General Secretary Mahinda Jayasinghe said that with the reopening of the entire school system on 22 November, there is a high risk of Covid-19 spreading in schools.

“In schools, especially teachers have to teach a large number of students, going from one classroom to another, and have to work closely with students, even though such teaching poses a certain risk to their health-related safety,” he claimed.

He therefore requested Gunawardena to pay attention to the matter and expedite the process of giving the third dose of Covid-19 vaccines to principals, teachers, and non-academic staff.

Jayasinghe also said that certain school administrations have assigned various duties to school staff, irrespective of the Covid-19-related health guidelines.

Gunawardena and Ministry of Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera were unavailable for comment on the matter.

Teachers’ trade unions last week accused the Education Ministry and other relevant authorities of not having prepared a programme to properly implement the Covid-19-related health guidelines in schools, claiming that as a result, teachers and students in nearly 1,000 schools have been reported to be infected with Covid-19.