Fatma El Zahra, a 68-year-old housewife, patiently awaits her turn to get the coronavirus vaccine at Al Khabeery clinic in Maadi, one of nearly 140 vaccination centers set up nationwide in recent weeks by the Ministry of Health and Population. The Egyptian government has stepped up its vaccination campaign of late, expanding its vaccine rollout to include the elderly and people with chronic diseases after several weeks of vaccinating health practitioners on the frontlines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Egyptian cabinet announced in early March.
“I registered on the Health Ministry vaccination website yesterday and almost immediately received a message on my cellphone scheduling my appointment for the following day,” Zahra told Al-Monitor. “My brother, his wife and my nephew have all been vaccinated so I thought why not me?”
Unlike many in Egypt, Zahra is not too concerned about the vaccine’s possible side effects.
“The vaccine will protect me,” she said. “Even if I get infected with the coronavirus the symptoms will be milder.”
Like many of the other vaccination centers in Egypt that have been overcrowded in recent days, Al Khabeery clinic is teeming with visitors — the majority of them elderly citizens. A nurse told Zahra she is No. 77 on the list and has to wait nearly two hours for her turn to get her AstraZeneca shot.
Ilham Ismail, director-general of the Maadi Health Department, attributes the high turnout for…