Turkey speeding up COVID-9 booster shot drive
Turkey is speeding up its booster shot drive against COVID-19, the country’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has announced in the face of threats from the Omicron variant of the virus.
“Our citizens who have already received either the inactivated or the mRNA vaccines at least three months ago are now eligible for the booster shot,” Koca said in a statement, released after a meeting of the Health Ministry’s Science Board.
Koca noted that the board assessed the possible effects of the Omicron variant on the country and decided that those eligible should get their booster shots to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases, which Europe is currently experiencing.
Turkey reported the first cases of the Omicron strains last week.
The country started offering booster shots to people who received the second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago.
People can choose between the jabs available as their booster shot, Koca said.
Turkey has been using both Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine and the inactivated jab by the Chinese company Sinovac in its inoculation program.
The country is also conducting phase three trials on volunteers to develop its own vaccine, Turkovac, against COVID-19.
More than 122 million COVID-19 vaccines doses have been administered in Turkey since the launch of the jab drive in January.
Nearly 13 million people have already received a third booster dose, while more than 51 million people have received at least two doses, which correspond to 82 percent of the population aged 18 and above. Official data show that over 56 million people, or 91 percent of the adult population, have been given at least one dose of the jab against the deadly virus.
“We are seeing the benefits of being one of the countries in the world that started at an early stage to give the third booster doses. The daily number of infections has not exhibited sharp increases, and this shows the success of the vaccination program,” Koca said.
The minister noted that the new variant was more transmissible but did not appear to cause more severe disease, but still renewed calls on the public to continue to follow the anti-virus measures.