Turkey ramping up vaccination program
Turkey is ramping up its vaccination drive to include more risk and age groups to the jab program as the country is seeking to move to a normalization phase this summer.
People aged above 50 will start being given COVID-19 jabs as of June 1 and the inoculation of people with disabilities has already begun, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Speaking after the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting on May 26, Koca noted that the country’s vaccination drive will gather momentum in June.
“As part of these ramped-up efforts, our citizens aged above 50 will start to receive their coronavirus jabs as of June 1,” the minister said.
Yesterday, Koca also announced the commence of the inoculation of a priority group.
“As of today, our profound, moderate, and severely disabled citizens are starting to get vaccinated,” the minister wrote on Twitter.
Koca recalled that Turkey has already signed deals to procure 270 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is more than three times the country’s population.
At the beginning of next week, about 5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be delivered to Turkey, the minister said.
A plane carrying a new batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as part of a deal to buy 120 million doses landed in Ankara on May 26.
On a related note, Turk İlaç ve Serum Sanayi, a local pharmaceuticals company, announced yesterday that it signed a deal with the International Research Institute for advance Systems (IRIAS) for the production of the Russian coronavirus vaccine CoviVac in Turkey.
The company, however, did not provide other details.
Turkish pharmaceuticals firm Viscoran İlaç and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) earlier this year agreed to cooperate on the production of the coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V in Turkey.
Turkey has administered nearly 28.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since it rolled out the inoculation program. More than 16.3 million people have received the first dose while some 12.2 million people have been given both doses.
Moving to normalization phase
As the number of daily COVID-19 cases is declining, authorities are weighing plans on to how to move to the normalization phase this summer.
Koca previously heralded that the Science Board was working on returning to normal.
The aim is to vaccinate 1 million people a day with the 30 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines expected in June, officials said, adding that the inoculation drive will expand to cover people aged 18 in autumn at the latest.
If the decline in infections continue, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen after June 1, but they will serve to a limited number of customers.
People may not be required to wear face masks at beaches or in parks provided that they stay two meters apart from each other if the pandemic outlook improves in the summer.