The Ministry of Health is urging citizens to get vaccinated
Late last year, Egyptians who received their Covid-19 vaccinations early in the rollout of the vaccine campaign were anxiously awaiting information about the administration of a third, booster dose. In December they were relieved when the cabinet announced that everyone would be eligible for a booster shot six months after their second dose of vaccine, and perhaps even more relieved to discover the electronic notification system calling them to clinics for their third shot was working seamlessly.
Fast forward a few months, and that early enthusiasm for a third dose of vaccine appears to have cooled. Cairene housewife Reham Ali is far from atypical. She told Al-Ahram Weekly: “I received a message that I should go for my third dose but I forgot. I don’t know when I will have time to do it. I don’t think it is going to be very effective.”
Four million people are due for a third dose of the vaccine, according to Ministry of Health Spokesperson Hossam Abdel-Ghaffar. He said more than 670,000 citizens have already taken the booster, and the ministry is ready to provide 23 million doses of the third shot between now and June.
The number of people who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus has reached 31.5 million, Abdel-Ghaffar added, before encouraging anyone who has not received a Covid-19 vaccine to register on the ministry’s website.
Abdel-Ghaffar told the Weekly that in response to falling take-up rates for the third booster shot “the ministry is organising awareness campaigns to encourage those who might be hesitant,” and is also working hard to persuade anyone who has yet to be administered the initial two doses of vaccine to do so.
“Citizens can access the vaccine within two weeks of receiving the Health Ministry’s message, not just within three days as was the case in the first two shots,” he said.
The first two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine provide 81 per cent protection against infection on average, while a third dose increases this to more than 90 per cent. Vaccines also minimise symptoms should someone contract an infection, significantly reducing hospitalisation and death rates.
“Unfortunately, many people are acting as if there is no longer coronavirus or Omicron,” said Abdel-Ghaffar. He warned that both remain prevalent, and that there are no excuses for abandoning preventative measures such as the wearing of face masks.
“The average number of daily coronavirus infections and deaths is 788 and 12, respectively. People need to be far more cautious and take up their vaccinations,” he added.
To date, Egypt has imported over 122 million vaccine doses, of which 64 million remain available.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 March, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.