Siloam starts vaccinating Egyptian-Americans at Antioch clinic

Posted at 8:55 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 21:55:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Siloam Health started vaccinating Egyptian-Americans and other community members at its Antioch clinic, Wednesday.

The healthcare facility is located to serve people who came to the country either through immigration or as a refugee. In Nashville, there's a sizable Egyptian population of about 15,000 people.

"There's a lot of the Arabic population here. So, they come here because it's easier for them," said Nermeen Morcos, a community health worker and interpreter at Siloam Health.

Morcos helps patients understand the process of vaccination and explains why it is important for the community to do so. There's some skepticism about the vaccine in the Egyptian community because there aren't many local resources that explain the situation in their native language.

"It's closer to my community. Especially my Egyptian community because they trust Siloam. They know them for a long time," said Morcos.

Wednesday was the first day the clinic has vaccinated its patients. They started with people aged 70 and older. One Egyptian-American man, Nagy Gergis, said he wanted to get the vaccine, and he's encouraging others in his community to do it as well.

"Everywhere, there are people who are excited to take the vaccine, but there are people who are not excited," said Gergis through an interpreter.

Gergis has been in Nashville for 20 years. However, he does not speak English well enough to pursue getting a vaccine at Vanderbilt.

"I don't think it is going to be easy for him," said Morcos. "He doesn't speak English at all. I try to sometimes with my patient translate with Vanderbilt. They don't have anyone to translate. So, I end up being the translator there. Even if it's not part of my job, we advocate for our patients."

20 doses of the Moderna vaccine were given to patients Wednesday. The clinic staff said they plan to increase the number of vaccines distributed in the weeks to come.