Pfizer/BioNTech jab recipients to be given booster shot, says Health Ministry
Turkey will start giving booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to people who received their second dose of the jab at least six months ago, the country’s health minister has said.
The country is already administering the third doses to those who were given two doses of the vaccine developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac.
According to data from the Health Ministry, more than 11 million people have already received the booster shots.
“The Pfizer/BioNTech booster shots will start with people aged 60 and above, those aged between 18 and 60 with chronic illnesses, health workers and other professionals at high risk,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a statement following a meeting of the Health Ministry’s Science Board.
The board advised the government on the pandemic measures.
Koca also revealed that to date 67 percent of the country’s whole population have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 59 percent of the population have been double jabbed.
“That rate needs to be increased over 70 percent in order to achieve herd immunity,” the minister said, calling on specifically pregnant women and people aged above 60 to get fully vaccinated.
Since it rolled out its inoculation program in mid-January, Turkey has administered nearly 117 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Some 56 million have received their first dose, while some 49 million people have been given two doses.
In the summer, particularly in August, the inoculation drive was moving fast with the number of jabs administered, even surpassing 1.5 doses some days, however, over the past weeks around 200,000 doses have been given daily.
Experts and government officials have been complaining for some time that the country’s vaccination drive has lost steam. They say young people and those who presently need the third dose of the coronavirus jab are ignoring the calls for getting vaccinated.
According to experts, young people are also largely ignoring basic anti-virus measures, such as social distancing and wearing protective face masks, which is why COVID-19 is spreading fast among them. However, severe cases and hospitalization among this age group is rather low and that is why the country’s health system is not yet overwhelmed, experts say.
Since the first case was reported in March last year, Turkey has seen more than 8 million coronavirus cases.