Vaccine eligibility age further lowered in Turkey
Turkey’s vaccination drive is gaining further momentum as authorities have included those aged above 35 to the country’s inoculation program.
Meanwhile, hospitals and health clinics across the country still see long lines formed in front of the vaccination sites and even ever-growing demand from the public to have their COVID-19 jabs.
In a sign of this strong interest, health institutions administered a record 1.42 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine on June 16 which came on top of the 1.24 million jabs given on the previous day.
Since the start of the vaccination drive on Jan.14, Turkey has administered nearly 38 million doses of COVID-19 jabs with more than 14 million people fully vaccinated. Close to 24 million people have received the first dose of the injection.
“We must never forget how we came to this day and what we left behind. We cannot build tomorrow if we forget about yesterday,” said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, urging everyone to get their jabs as soon as possible.
The daily coronavirus cases climbed to record highs in April, forcing the government to impose a lockdown until May 17. As the pandemic outlook improved, the country eased many of the COVID-19-related restrictions starting June 1. Currently, the daily infections are hovering at around 6,000.
Speaking after the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting on June 16, Koca said that Turkey may soon reach social immunity thorough vaccinations, recalling that over the past weeks, more and more people from different age groups and professions, including artists, academics, and teachers, have been included in the program.
The numbers of cases, patients in serious condition and the death toll from the outbreak have been declining gradually, but there are still some 80,000 active COVID-19 patients and this should not be overlooked, the minister warned, asking the public to continue to adhere to the rules and measures.
Since the first case was detected in March 2020, the coronavirus has infected more than 5.3 million people and killed nearly 49,000.
Koca, who declared earlier this week that the acute phase of COVID-19 in Turkey is nearing an end, voiced optimism that the pandemic outlook may improve further this summer in the country. “This will be the last summer with face masks on,” he said.
On a related note, Professor Mustafa Necmi İlhan from the Science Board told Demirören News Agency that some more time is needed to lift the curfews on Sundays.
He also suggested that a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine could start to be administered in July or August.
“The third booster vaccines will first be given to the elderly as it was the case with the first doses. The groups under risk, such as health workers and the elderly will receive the third dose of the jab by the autumn,” İlhan said.