Turkey plans to offer BioNTech booster shots starting November
Turkey is planning to offer a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines starting from October to people who have already had two shots of the jab.
The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab were administered in April and the second doses in June. According to plans under consideration, the third dose of the vaccine will start to be given in November.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the COVID-19 booster shot increases protection against the disease, calling on people to get the booster shot.
He cited statistics showing that people, who have received three doses of the coronavirus vaccine account for less than 2 percent of all COVID-19 cases.
The minister described “the fully vaccinated” as those who have been given two doses of inactivated jabs plus a third dose or who have received two doses of the mRNA jab in six months.
“Only time will tell whether we need to get the shot every six months going forward, because there is still a large group of unvaccinated people in Turkey. Those people also pose risks to the vaccinated population. It is crucial that at least 70 percent of the population is vaccinated,” said Professor Zafer Kurugöl.
Some 6 million citizens have not yet received their third doses, but they are those who had been given the Sinovac vaccine, said Professor İsmail Balık, an infectious diseases expert at Ankara University.
“They should as soon as possible get either the BioNTech jab or the third shot of Sinovac,” Balık explained.
Turkey, which is using both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the jab developed by the Chinese company Sinovac in its inoculation drive that was rolled out in mid-January, is already offering the third doses.
According to data from the Health Ministry, more than 9 million people have been given the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Koca on Sept. 9 said that some 11.3 million people had skipped their second doses, stressing that only one shot is not effective against the deadly virus.
To date, Turkey has administered more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Over 50.9 million people have taken their first doses, while more than 39.6 million are fully vaccinated.
The number of daily infections in the country would have been at least four to five times higher if the vaccination drive had been slower, Koca said.
The minister also announced that the domestically developed jab, TÜRKOVAC, is at a stage where authorities are preparing to apply for emergency use approval.
“If approved, we will start mass production in October,” he said, adding that two facilities are now ready for manufacturing.