Turkish vaccine teams target isolated villages
ANKARA-The Associated Press
Traveling across roads covered with ice and snow, vaccination teams have been going to Turkey's isolated mountain villages as the government seeks to inoculate 60% of the country's people against coronavirus over the next three months.
After much effort, medical workers arrived on Feb. 26 to vaccinate older villagers in Gümüşlü, a small settlement of 350 in the central province of Sivas that lies 140 miles (230 kilometers) from the provincial capital.
"It's a difficult challenge to come here," said Dr. Rüstem Hasbek, head of Sivas Health Services. "The geography is tough, the climate is tough, as you can see."
Turkey rolled out the Chinese Sinovac vaccine on Jan. 14 and has so far given out 8.2 million doses. The vaccine is given in two doses 28 days apart. Ankara has also ordered 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that Turkey aims to vaccinate 52.5 million people by the end of May. To date, around 10% of Turkey's 83 million population has received at least the first dose.
Health care workers, older people and people with serious medical conditions were among the first to receive the jab.
"I can't go to the hospital. I have a heart condition and I get motion sickness in cars," said Gümüşlü resident Zeynep Yiğit, 70. "The doctors came and vaccinated us."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to announce the easing of coronavirus restrictions on March 1.
He previously said the government would evaluate the situation on a province-by-province basis before allowing restaurants, cafes and other shuttered businesses to reopen.
Weekend and evening curfews could also be relaxed.