Health minister urges people to get booster shots

Health minister urges people to get booster shots

Health minister urges people to get booster shots

The weekly COVID-19 incidence rates in Turkey’s three largest cities, Istanbul Ankara and İzmir, have declined but Health Minister Fahrettin Koca renewed calls for people to get their booster shots against the coronavirus.

“It is us who set the course of the pandemic in our country. The virus will only disappear with measures and the vaccines. Get your booster shots,” Koca wrote on Twitter.

In the face of the threats from the Omicron strain of COVID-19, Turkey has intensified efforts to give the third dose of the vaccine to as many people as possible by offering the shots to those who have received either the inactivated or the mRNA vaccines at least three months ago.

The country was already administering the third doses but last week it shortened the booster shot interval to three months from the previous six months.

Turkey has detected the first cases of the Omicron variant, worrying health experts who have been complaining that the vaccination drive is moving slow.

To date, nearly 14 million people have been given their third doses of the vaccine. More than 82 percent of the adult population aged 18 and above, or over 51 million people, have been double jabbed and close to 57 million people, which account for 91 percent of the adult population, have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Overall, more than 123 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Turkey so far.

Meanwhile, the incidence rate measuring the number of new coronavirus infections per 100,000 people in Istanbul, which is home to more than 15 million residents, dropped to 245.7 in the week of Dec.4-Dec. 10 from around 270 between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, showed data the health minister provided on Dec. 18.

In Ankara, the incidence rate was down to 159 from 182 and in İzmir, the country’s largest city, it fell slightly to 68.5 in the week of Dec. 4-Dec. 10 from 69.6 in the previous week.