Health minister urges third dose of virus vaccine
A third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine offers better protection against the coronavirus, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, urging people to get the booster shot.
He noted that Turkey conducted a study on a total of 31 million vaccinated people, which showed that people who received three doses are better protected against the virus. Koca, however, added that the study will be updated since it has not been a long time since third doses were administered.
“The significance of the study is that it proves scientifically the necessity of the third dose,” Koca said following a meeting of the Health Ministry’s Science Board on Aug. 18.
Three doses of an inactivated vaccine and two doses of the inactivated jab plus one dose of an mRNA vaccine provide equal protection, the minister explained.
“It is now understood that our citizens who received 2 inactivated shots must get a third dose, whether it is another inactivated jab or the mRNA vaccine,” Koca said.
He noted that the team that developed the mRNA vaccine suggested that the booster dose may be needed.
Turkey has been using the vaccines developed by the Chinese Sinovac and Pfizer/BioNTech in its inoculation program.
“We need to boost our protection against the vaccine by getting the third dose without any delay,” Koca said, urging people to do so.
He reiterated that people must continue to adhere to the fundamental rules, such as wearing face masks and social distancing.
“The pandemic is not yet over, the virus has not disappeared. Do not challenge the virus,” Koca said.
The minister added that the COVID-19 vaccines are now made available to children older than 12 with chronic illnesses.
This week, Turkey decided to allow people who were inoculated with Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine to take an additional Pfizer/BioNTech dose to help ease travel to countries that have not approved the Chinese shot.
Koca said that the decision to offer the fourth dose is not related to health concerns.
“This is a new arrangement designed specifically to comply with the rules of the countries that require two doses of mRNA jabs,” he explained.
Since mid-January, when Turkey rolled out its vaccination program, it has administered more than 86.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Over 34 million people have been fully vaccinated, and more than 45 million others have received their first doses. Additionally, at least 7.2 million people have been given the third dose of the jab.