Turkey planning vaccine supply and logistics in advance, says health minister
Turkey prepared its COVID-19 vaccination and injection supply program in advance, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, adding that the jab supply will continue to be carried out according to this plan.
Turkey rolled out vaccinations last week starting with health care workers. The inoculation program was further extended this week to cover the elderly and personnel at nursing homes as well as people aged above 90.
Moreover, pharmacists and staff at pharmaceutical warehouses and people aged over 85 were set to receive their first dose of the vaccine, developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac, on Jan. 21.
Health teams will administer the jab to people aged over 85 at their homes.
“I want you to know that the vaccination capacity will increase every day,” Koca said in a statement released after the Health Ministry’s Science Board meeting held on Jan. 20.
At every stage, the vaccine logistics will continue according to a plan that will make it possible to maintain the vaccination program ceaselessly, he added.
“We are pushing the boundaries to provide as many citizens as possible access to the vaccine in the shortest amount of time possible,” Koca said.
Turkey has already vaccinated nearly 1.1 million people.
The pace of the vaccinations slowed after an explosive start last week, but can quicken it again after the country delivers inoculations to the elderly in care homes and at their houses, Tarkan Mustafa Yamanoğlu, the program’s director, told Reuters.
“Logistically, our capacity is very high. The current dose numbers are considerably low for us,” he said.
Ankara has agreed to buy 50 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine and is in talks with other developers, including BioNTech/Pfizer for supplies.
The need to “properly administer” vaccines and limit contact to avoid spreading infections were other factors constraining the pace of the rollout, he said, as were the demographics of the people being vaccinated.
“We expect fluctuations in vaccination speeds depending on age groups and mobility; this will happen in the coming period,” Yamanoğlu added.
He said authorities had contingency plans in case further shipments were delayed.
The jab is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.
Turkey is carrying out the vaccination program in four stages. In the second stage, essential workers and those with at least one chronic disease will be vaccinated.
Citizens under the age of 50 with at least one chronic disease and young adults will get the shot in the third stage and the rest of the population will be inoculated in the final stage.
People, who have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, have not developed any serious side effects, according to Professor Mustafa Necmi İlhan from the Health Ministry’s Social Sciences Board.
After getting inoculated, some people reported rash, mild fatigue and headache, said İlhan.
People will need to make an appointment in order to get the shot which will be administered at public and private hospitals and family health centers.
“The appointment scheme will definitely ensure a smooth running of the vaccination program and prevent the crowding of hospitals,” İlhan said.