Turkey carries out vaccinations at breakneck speed

Turkey carries out vaccinations at breakneck speed

Turkey carries out vaccinations at breakneck speed

Turkey is carrying out its COVID-19 vaccination program at a speed among the fastest in the world thanks to, according to the health minister, the country’s experience in mass inoculation and strong infrastructure.

Turkey rolled out the massive injection drive last week on Jan. 14 starting with health care workers, administering the vaccines brought from China in late December 2020.

In a space of only four days, more than 700,000 people have received the jab across the country as of Jan. 17. For comparison, countries like, France, Spain and Italy, which started COVID-19 injections much earlier than Turkey, vaccinated some 400,000, 800,000 and 1.1 million, respectively, so far.

“We are a country which is well experienced in rolling out nationwide vaccination programs. Our infrastructure is more than capable of conducting this [vaccination] program in a controlled manner. We will win the fight against the outbreak together,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter on Jan. 15.

According to data from the Health Ministry, Turkey has 1.1 million health workers who will be vaccinated within a month in a country with a population of more than 83 million.

Two doses of the vaccine will be administered 28 days apart.

Koca was the first person to receive the Chinese vaccine jab after the country’s official drug and medical equipment body approved Chinese firm Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine for emergency use.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also received his first shot of the vaccine in front of TV cameras on Jan. 15, urging the public to get vaccinated.

Political leaders followed suit. İYİ (Good) Party chair Meral Akşener and Devlet Bahçeli, the head of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were vaccinated last week.

Koca also invited other political figures, including Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and Mithat Sancar, the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), as well as Erkan Baş, the leader of the Workers’ Party of Turkey, to get the shot to promote the vaccination campaign.

The vaccination program will be carried out in four stages.

In the first stage along with health care staff, people over the age of 65, the elderly, disabled, adults living in crowded places, and those living at nursing homes will receive vaccine jabs.

In the second stage, essential workers and those with at least one chronic disease will be vaccinated.

In the third stage, citizens under the age of 50 with at least one chronic disease, young adults, those working in sectors and professions which are not included in the first two stages will be vaccinated.

In the fourth and last stage, the rest of the population will be vaccinated.