Turkey’s vaccine drive gaining further momentum
Turkey has accelerated its vaccination drive against COVID-19 in terms of both the scope of the jab program and the speed of inoculations while the number of injections administered exceeded 33 million doses.
Yesterday, the vaccine eligibility rate was further lowered to cover those aged 40 and above.
Recently, people working in key industries, such as inner city and intercity transport, food production and distribution sector were added to the country’s jabbing program. Restaurant and café workers, lawyers and employees of parcel delivery companies as well as couriers are also now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.
While the scope of the inoculation program is widening, at the same time the speed of jabbing gather momentum over the past couple of days.
Nearly 600,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered on June 11 alone, and on the following day the number was close to some 500,000.
“A total of 449,684 vaccine jabs were given on Saturday. [Some] 99.485% of those who made an appointment for vaccination came and had their vaccines,” Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter on June 12.
“We are one step closer to normal life. Thanks,” Koca added.
The country’s vaccination drive was launched on Jan. 14. According to data from the Health Ministry, more than 33.5 million doses of COVID-19 injections have been administered, with around 13.7 million people fully vaccinated.
To date, over 19.8 million people have received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Turkey may achieve social immunity at the end of July if it could administer 1 million jabs a day, said Professor İsmail Balık, the head of the infectious diseases department at Ankara University Medical School.
This, obviously, depends on vaccine supplies and people’s willingness to get vaccinated, Balık added.
He recalled that if there are enough supplies, Turkey has the capacity to administer 1.5 million jabs a day.
“Achieving social immunity this summer can be possible if some 700,000 to 1 million doses are given and we can return to normal life in the autumn,” Balık said.
He, however, noted that there are people, on the one hand, who want to have their vaccines as soon as possible, and those, on the other, who are still hesitant to receive the COVID-19 jabs.
“Vaccine hesitancy is the biggest obstacles for us to achieve social immunity. Probably we will see the vaccine hesitancy increase as younger people are included in the vaccination program because the vaccine hesitancy is more widespread among younger people,” Balık said, calling for launching a campaign to encourage citizens to get the jab.
Vaccination is not mandatory in Turkey. People need to arrange an appointment to have their shots.
There are reports in local media suggesting that people from anti-vaccine circles are making appointments but deliberately not going to health centers to get the jabs. Their purpose is to make vaccines spoiled.
Recently, Koca urged people not to skip their vaccine appointments. He noted that when a BioNTech vaccine vial is diluted it should be used within six hours, otherwise it goes to waste.