File Photo: A citizen taking Covid-19 vaccine. Photo courtesy of Egyptian health ministry
Egypt is planning to begin vaccinating minors between the ages of 12 and 18 years old against the coronavirus within days, according to Ministry of Health Spokesperson Khaled Megahed, as the country seeks to widen its coronavirus vaccination rollout for school pupils.
“The state intends to start vaccinating 12- to 18-year-olds, but the vaccine that will be administered has not been determined yet,” Megahed told ‘Newsroom’ show on Sada Al-Balad TV channel on Wednesday evening.
The vaccine will be determined according to the relevant scientific studies and research, the spokesperson noted.
“What I can say is that we will start vaccinating this age group within days.”
Vaccination is mandatory for all teaching staff, employees, and workers, as well as students who are 18 or above at lower and higher education institutions in Egypt, with unvaccinated people barred from entering the premises, according to a government decision issued in August.
The government’s decision, which comes in parallel with the return of in-person classes at Egyptian schools and universities, did not mention school pupils at the time. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, however, has assured that, if possible, the country’s vaccination campaign will target high-school pupils.
“We seek to achieve high vaccination rates in a short period of time to achieve herd immunity,” the president said during an event in September.
Following a year-and-a-half of a hybrid system of in-person and remote classes due to the pandemic, students are set to return to schools and universities in Egypt in October.
Over this period, most students have remained at home, as attendance was optional, with assignments given online, however, pupils who had to take their final high school exams were required to do so in person in June and July.
Egypt is ramping up its efforts to inoculate 40 million citizens by the end of 2021 in parallel with a low priority plan to provide booster shots to those who were inoculated at least 6-8 months ago.
Since the vaccination campaign started earlier this year, nearly 13 million citizens have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Egypt, which has recorded a total of 293,951 infections, including 16,860 deaths.
The six vaccines that have been administered in Egypt since the beginning of the vaccination campaign earlier this year are Sinopharm, Sinovac, Sputnik V, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnsonm — with the latter two currently reserved for travellers — in addition to the locally-made VACSERA Sinovac vaccine.
Doses of the Pfizer vaccine are scheduled to arrive in Egypt on Thursday evening as well.