A Young Doctor Facing COVID-19
Ruba got vaccinated at the same unit she works in and encourages her patients to receive the vaccine quickly
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At the Qattameya Primary Health Unit (PHU) in New Cairo, this young, energetic doctor roams the corridors of the unit to help those coming to receive the vaccine. She helps them to quickly finish their procedures, answers their questions and reassures them.
Dr. Ruba Mohammed is a young doctor at the Ministry of Health. Since March 2021, she has been giving COVID-19 vaccines at the Qattameya PHU, one of the very first vaccination centers inaugurated in Egypt.
On average, the PHU where Ruba works received around 200 people a day to get vaccinated. This number is on a surge given the increased awareness of the importance of the vaccine and the fact that only vaccinated citizens will be allowed to enter any government facility as of December 2021. A couple of months earlier, October 2021, a decree by the Supreme Council of Universities made COVID-19 vaccination compulsory to all students.
To meet this increased demand, UNICEF facilitated the delivery of around 70 million doses of different types of the vaccine through the COVAX facility. The organization also facilitated the delivery of fridges that will allow storage and transport of the vaccines at ultra-low temperature.
Ruba received her dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the same PHU where she works. As the case of many who took the vaccine, her experience was positive and encouraging in terms of the mild side effects. "All the rumors I heard about major side effects were proved false so far" she says.
With the fourth wave of the epidemic hitting the world, Ruba encourages everyone, especially the medical staff, to get vaccinated. In her view, doctor should lead the non-medical community by example and get vaccinated. “The first thing that people ask me when they come for vaccination is whether I got vaccinate or not,” Ruba says, “knowing that I did, they get more encouraged”.
Although hundreds of cases have crossed her way, one case she will never forget is: "a lady dressed all in black mourning both her father and mother who died of COVID-19 a week before she received the her vaccination SMS."
In one day, Ruba meets many nationalities who come to receive the vaccine. Her strong English language skills help her communicate with foreigners and provide them with medical services and advice just like Egyptians.
Dr. Hani, a fellow doctor at the same PHU, agrees with Ruba. Hani started work at the PHU since the inauguration of the vaccination center there. Recently, he noticed a marked increase in the demand for vaccines from different groups of citizens. What bothers him most is the objection of some people to receiving certain vaccines because of what is circulating on social media. "I try to explain to them that all vaccines Egypt receives are effective and safe,” he says, “the differences between them are minimal, and the point is we need to get the largest number of people vaccinated to reach the herd immunity. Only this will eliminate the epidemic."
In October 2021, the Ministry of Health announced in a statement that to date, 32 million doses of COVID-19 were given nationwide. More than 7 million doses of different types of vaccines are expected to arrive to Egypt in the same month, in addition to manufacturing 2 million doses per week from Sinovac vaccine locally. UNICEF is a key partner of the Egyptian government in supplying vaccines and providing cold chain logistics for vaccine preservation.