Children may get virus shot before schools reopen
Officials are considering widening the scope of the COVID inoculation program to start vaccinating children aged between 12 and 15 before schools reopen in early September, Professor Sema Turan from the Science Board has said.
“According to plans under discussion, the eligibility age for the vaccine may be first lowered to cover those aged 12 who are also at risk. Later, children aged 15 will start to be vaccinated. We aim to reopen the schools on Sept. 6 as already planned, and our priority is to provide the necessary support to make the resumption of in-class education possible,” Turan said.
The issue was discussed at the Health Ministry’s Science Board, and a respective decision will be made soon, she added.
Turkey has administered more than 76 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine since it rolled out its inoculation program in mid-January.
Some 29 million people have been fully vaccinated to date, while nearly 42 million people have received their first doses of the injection.
Meanwhile, Professor İsmail Cinel, the chief physician at Marmara University Pendik Training and Research Hospital and the former chair of the Turkish Society of Intensive Care, said that the vaccination has proved to be effective in preventing severe cases.
“Currently, the number of daily COVID-19 cases are hovering at around 25,000. And given those numbers, there should have been more patients in intensive care units (ICU) than what we have right now in those wards,” Cinel said, adding that presently there were between 600 to 700 patients in ICU.
He noted that when the country witnessed the second peak of coronavirus, with cases climbing up to more than 33,000, the number of patients in ICUs was around 6,000.
During the third peak, the daily infections stood at 60,000, but since people aged over 65 were vaccinated in this period, the number of severe cases was around 3,500, he added.
“We are going through the fourth peak, and the difference from the previous surge in the cases is that we have the Delta variant of COVID-19. However, compared to the previous peaks, this time around, we have fewer hospitalizations and ICU patients thanks to vaccinations,” Cinel said.
However, Cinel stressed that 95 percent of the patients currently being treated in ICUs are unvaccinated.
He added that though the vaccination drive has not yet produced social immunity, it has been advantageous in preventing more hospitalizations and severe cases.
Last week, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned that the number of people who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in Turkey is not yet high enough to fight the pandemic.