Health minister calls on authorities to ramp up vaccination drive

Health minister calls on authorities to ramp up vaccination drive

Health minister calls on authorities to ramp up vaccination drive

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has called on all authorities, institutions and local administrators to monitor the vaccination rates in Turkey’s all 81 provinces, urging to ramp up the speed of vaccinations by establishing mobile inoculation teams in the country.

“We aim to reach and vaccinate 70 percent of the people above the age of 18 before Eid al-Adha,” Koca told a group of journalists after the cabinet meeting on July 5. This year the Eid al-Adha celebration will start from July 21 and last until July 23.

With the administration of more than 5.3 million doses of COVID-19 jabs over the past week alone, a little over 25 percent of Turkey’s population aged over 18 is now fully vaccinated.

However, according to the minister, the vaccination rate in some provinces is very low.

“The institutions in these provinces should establish mobile inoculation teams. These teams should visit people personally and encourage them to get vaccinated,” Koca added.

According to the ministry’s plan, all of the provinces will be determined by their population. A province with 75 percent or more of its residents vaccinated will be marked as “blue, while a province with 65 to 75 percent of its residents inoculated will be marked “yellow.” The color “red” will signify a province with less than 55 percent of its people vaccinated as risky.

“With these colors, we will be able to see at what stage of vaccination we are,” the minister noted.

Koca also highlighted that the country identified three cases of the new Delta Plus COVID-19 variant in three provinces, adding that the Delta variant was also identified in some 284 virus cases across 30 provinces.

“The Delta Plus [variant] was seen in three people in three separate provinces, including one in Istanbul,” he said, adding that the people infected were in good condition.

Koca also said Turkey currently had some 8 million shots and would receive another 26 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses this month and 1.5 million Sinovac doses next week.

“The vaccine doses received up to now are enough, and the ones we have in hand are also enough,” Koca said.

The minister uploaded a map on July 6 on Twitter showing the infection rates per 100,000 residents between June 26 and July 2.

According to the map, the number of cases decreased in the capital Ankara and the western province of İzmir but has increased in Istanbul.

“The rate is 71.99 in Ankara per 100,000 people. It is 54.60 in Istanbul and 23.51 in İzmir,” he noted.

The rates per 100,000 people were 83.64 in Ankara, 54.30 in Istanbul and 27.40 in İzmir in the previous week.

So far, Turkey has delivered 53 million shots in total, where 15.92 million people out of the total population of around 84 million have been fully inoculated.

Separately, the government is mulling on a plan to encourage vaccinations, especially for people aged between 18 and 35, who have been observed to have the least intention to get the vaccine jabs.

According to a report by daily Hürriyet, only the vaccinated people will be able to enter concert and cinema halls and stadiums.

The government is considering a “kind of positive discrimination” to encourage this group, as quoted by some officials.

In the scope of the proposal, “jab booths” will also be put in front of the mosques, big bazaars and construction sites, where locals will be vaccinated on the spot.