One year since Turkey began its jab program
On Jan. 13, 2021, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and members of the Health Ministry’s Science Board, which advises the government on the pandemic, took the first shots of the vaccines against the coronavirus live on TV after local authorities approved the jab developed by the Chinese company Sinovac.
The next day vaccinations began, starting with health care workers and the elderly. In the following months, Turkey extended the scope of the program by adding different age and risk groups to the jab drive.
Sinovac’s inactivated vaccine arrived in Turkey at the end of 2020 and local authorities ran tests on the jab and finally gave their approval.
Later, the country added the mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech to its arsenal. Finally, this month the homegrown, Turkovac, was rolled out.
Data from the Health Ministry show that since mid-January last year, more than 138 million doses of the coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Turkey. Close to 23 million people have been given a booster shot.
Over 52 million people, or around 84 percent of the population, aged 18 and above have been double jabbed, and more than 57 million, which correspond to 92 percent of the adults, have received at least one dose of the shot.
However, the pace of vaccinations widely differs among provinces, with particularly the cities in the country’s east and southeast lagging behind.
In the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, only 61 percent of the adult population are double jabbed, and it is 63 percent in Diyarbakır, the largest city in this region, while in Osmaniye, not too far from Şanlıurfa, the vaccination rate is more than 88 percent. In Ordu, on the Black Sea coast, close to 88 percent of the adults have been given two doses.
The situation is no different when it comes to the three largest cities. The vaccination rate is 77 percent in Istanbul, the country’s most crowded city, but more than 82 percent of the adult population are double jabbed in Ankara and over 84 percent in İzmir.
Experts are particularly worried about people who are skipping the third dose of the vaccine as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has taken hold of the country, which has led to a surge in daily cases.
The number of daily infections breached the 60,000 mark on Jan. 6 for the first time since April last year and now are hovering above 70,000.