Vaccination program on track, successful, says minister
Turkey’s vaccination program is being executed successfully and going according to plans, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, praising the achievements made in a “short period of time.”
He noted the high rates reached in the number of people who have received the first dose of the COVID-19 jab, urging people to get their second doses.
Since Turkey launched its inoculation program in mid-January, more than 52 million citizens have been given the first dose of the vaccine, which correspond to over 84 percent of the population aged 18 and above.
Data from the Health Ministry show that over 41 million people, or more than 66 percent of the adult population, have been fully vaccinated, while the third dose has been given to nearly 10 million people.
To date, nearly 104 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Turkey.
Koca reiterated that keeping schools open for face-to-face education is the government’s priority.
Random PCR testing on students will not be conducted without parents’ consent, the minister said.
Koca last week announced a decision to run those tests at selected schools for medical screening.
Some 18 million students and more than 1 million students returned to schools for in-class education under strict rules after a nearly 18-month break.
Meanwhile, officials are mulling plans to prevent overcrowded classrooms.
They are looking into ways on how to make face-to-face education safer at a time when the number of daily virus cases and the death toll from the pandemic remain alarmingly high.
“Mobility and thus interaction [between people] have increased. Cases rose above 28,000. We need to act together,” Koca wrote on Twitter on Sept. 15.
The average classroom size in Turkey is 22 students, but in some provinces, such as Istanbul or the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, the size goes up to 30 to 40 students.
According to plans under consideration, the number of schools, where students from different grades attend classes in two groups, in the morning and afternoon, could be increased in order to reduce risks.
Another option that officials are presently considering is to hold classes on Saturdays and Sundays.
If those actions are to be put into practice, provincial directorates of education will be responsible for deciding on which measures should be implemented. However, measures to be implemented will differ from district to district in a province or from school to school in a single district.
Officials also said that a total of 1 billion Turkish Liras (around $118 million) in funds have been channeled to 58,000 schools across the country to ensure the continuation of classes in a safe way.