School teachers and staff are expected to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at the weekend, and despite some uncertainty, the controversy surrounding AstraZeneca is not making them retreat, the benefits stand out, say directors and unions.
The British pharmaceutical has been involved in controversy due to the appearance of blood clots in those vaccinated with its vaccine against Covid-19, leading some European countries to temporarily suspend its use in mid-March, including Portugal.
In the last few days, and again on the eve of thousands of teachers and non-teachers receiving this vaccine, the topic has returned to the public debate and this Wednesday the European Medicines Agency (EMA) concluded that there is a “possible relationship” between that vaccine and the formation of “very rare cases” of blood clots, but he insisted on the benefits of the drug.
AstraZeneca. EMA official says there is an association with clots. There are more cases of cerebral thrombosis in younger people
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“The controversy is public and the teachers are not immune to the controversy,” Manuel Pereira, president of the National Association of School Leaders, told Lusa, reporting that this Wednesday there was talk about it in the teachers room at his school. Therefore, Manuel Pereira said that many teachers preferred not to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that will not be enough reason to stop being vaccinated as early as April 10 and 11, preferring to focus on the benefits.
Also Filinto Lima, from the National Association of Directors of Groupings and Public Schools (ANDAEP), has a similar perception and admits that the recent resurgence of the controversy did not motivate a reaction as negative as he anticipated. Recalling when, in mid-March, the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine was temporarily suspended in Portugal, the president of ANDAEP believes that “if everyone’s vaccination [profissionais do ensino] three or four weeks ago, few would“.
“Now, I can’t say the same,” he added, explaining that this time the teachers did not withdraw, continuing to express their desire to receive the vaccine against covid-19. On the other hand, the directors’ representative believes that the conclusions of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced also will help to “settle down” the most apprehensive.
On the side of the unions, the secretary-general of the National Federation of Teachers (Fenprof) also emphasizes the imbalance of the balance, when weighing the pros and cons of vaccination.
“The risk is never zero, but in this case the benefit is not even comparable”, defended Mário Nogueira.
Admitting that the controversy may make some people apprehensive, the faculty representative also believes that “the vast majority want to be vaccinated”, a perception shared by the secretary general of another union structure.
For João Dias da Silva, from the National Education Federation, vaccination is one of the essential tools to ensure health security in schools, preventing them from closing again, and for this very reason it was one of the main demands of unions in the Education sector.
“There are always fears and uncertainties, but I think there is a great willingness to accept what the scientific community is saying,” said the FNE secretary-general, considering that the number of professionals to refuse the covid-19 vaccine will be “Very residual”.
On the other hand, Mário Nogueira also referred to the suggestion of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization to offer an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca against covid-19 to people under 30 years old, stating that this issue does not even arise in education, since that younger teachers are rare.
Among an aging teaching class, added João Dias da Silva, age is yet another reason to accept the vaccine.
The “big exercise” of vaccination against covid-19, as the Minister of Education called it, will take place next weekend and, according to the president of ANDAEP, teachers and staff have already started to be called.
Similar to what was done for the vaccination of pre-school and 1st cycle professionals on the weekend of 27 and 28 April, the call is being made through SMS.
“Everything is going on,” stressed Filinto Lima, stating that the majority have already been contacted and that those who have not yet received the call are informing the school management, who will report the problem. Others who did not respond to the call within 24 hours are being contacted by health services, according to ANDE’s Manuel Pereira.
The Minister of Education, Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, said on Tuesday that the goal is to vaccinate all teachers and non-teachers from the 2nd cycle to the secondary, and those from the pre-school and 1st cycle who were not called two years ago weeks.
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