Egyptian universities started to vaccinate employees in the education sector, teaching staffs and students above 18 against the coronavirus ahead of the new academic year that begins next month.
Amid the campaign, the Egyptian Health Ministry has distributed locally produced Chinese Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines to universities nationwide. The vaccines are manufactured by Egypt’s state-owned vaccine maker VACSERA as per an agreement signed in April with Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac.
The campaign is urged by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who stressed during a ceremony on Sunday that the country seeks to achieve high vaccination rates in a very short time to acquire herd immunity.
“In education, whether at schools or universities, we’re keen that by the beginning of the new academic year, we will have vaccinated all teaching staffs and university students,” the Egyptian president said, noting that there might be a chance to later vaccinate high school students as well.
Several universities have already started vaccinating its teaching staffs and some of its students over the past few days, including Cairo University, Ain Shams University and Helwan University in the capital Cairo, while others have just started to follow suit such as Minia University in Upper Egypt and Mansoura University of northeastern Dakahlia province.
Mansoura University started vaccinating its students on Saturday, with the goal of getting all of its nearly 170,000 students, in addition to over 30,000 freshmen that will join the university, vaccinated by the beginning of the new academic year.
The 18 faculties of Mansoura Universities saw dozens of students receiving the jabs on the first vaccination days by medics from the university’s general administration for medical affairs.
“I believe it’s necessary to get the jab so that one can attend the classes safely and it will decrease the serious and deadly COVID-19 cases,” Ahmed Ghazi, a senior student at the Faculty of Computers and Information Sciences (CIS) at Mansoura University, told Xinhua while sitting with his sleeve up to get the shot.
Omnia el-Siri, a doctor at the university’s hospital, was organizing the vaccination process at the CIS faculty and insisting that all those present in the room or waiting outside must be wearing medical face masks.
“Vaccinating the youths at universities is a very good step to fasten the vaccination rate among young people. In addition, the new academic year is expected to start with attendance not online, so the move will help reduce the spread of the disease among students,” she added.
Her colleague Abeer Ahmed, also from the university’s general administration for medical affairs, said that the Chinese vaccine given to students is approved by the World Health Organization and the Egyptian Health Ministry “so it’s certainly safe.”
Mohamed el-Bayoumi, Mansoura University’s vice president for education and students’ affairs, pointed out that the campaign is instructed by the country’s political leadership and implemented via cooperation between the ministries of health and higher education, noting that the Chinese vaccine received by the students was already proven to be “safe and efficient.”
“Most of the population of Egypt are youth, and students of Egyptian universities are nearly 3 million. So, targeting them will surely raise the vaccination rate in the society,” the university’s vice president told Xinhua, stressing that vaccinating students is also a form of protection for their parents against COVID-19 infection.