People aged over 55 rushing to get vaccinated
People aged between 55 and 59 are flocking to hospitals to have their first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19, after the government this week widened the scope of the inoculation drive to cover this age group.
E-Nabız, a website, which shows if people are eligible for the vaccine and handles the jab appointments, was not accessible for some time in the face of large number of requests.
There are some 4.6 million citizens aged between 55 and 59 in Turkey.
People need to arrange an appointment to have their first and second doses of the coronavirus jab.
They formed long lines in front of hospitals, waiting for their turn, sometimes for hours, to get the jab.
Due to this strong demand for the vaccines, there were some chaotic scenes and delays at the vaccination sites.
There are several reasons for this rush and long lines which Turkey has not seen before since the inoculation drive was rolled out on Jan. 14.
Individuals in this age group are believed to be people that are more aware of the benefits of the vaccine compared to elderly people, who had been inoculated in the earlier stages of the jab drive.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said that some 24 percent of people aged over 65 had not received their shots, skipping their vaccination appointments.
People aged over 55 mostly chose the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine over the Chinese vaccine CoronoVac.
But Turkey for the time being has a limited amount of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines and that particular injection is available at only selected hospitals due to storage issues.
With a combination of all those factors, Turkey’s hospitals experienced something they did not probably expect.
Şişli Hamidiye Etfal Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul was one of those facilities.
People came to the hospital in the wee hours of the day to have their shots. But in the face of the flood of people, the appointments were delayed, resulting in quarrels between the hospital staff and people. Things improved later after additional vaccines were delivered to the hospital.
“I have been waiting for this for a year. As soon as I figured I was eligible for the vaccine, I arranged an appointment. They stopped the vaccination because they ran out of the jabs. But the inoculation resumed after the vaccines arrived,” said the 56-year old Yurdagül Bezirgan, a local.
Turkey began the vaccination program initially with the Chinese vaccine and recently started to use the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
To date, more than 20.5 million doses have been administered. Nearly 12.7 million people have received the first dose, while another 7.9 million have been given both doses.
Meanwhile, the government is weighing possible options to bring the outbreak under control.
The cabinet is expected to discuss whether the partial lockdown imposed for two weeks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan should be extended at its meeting next week.
Among those options are closing crowded public places and shopping centers and a possible four-day lockdown during Eid al-Fitr.