COVID-19 vaccination age drops to 30 in Turkey, more doses arrive
Starting on Sunday, people at the age of 30 and above are now eligible for coronavirus shots, instilling hope for the younger population of a country embattled by the pandemic, Trend reports citing Daily Sabah. The arrival of new shipments of vaccines from abroad will also bolster Turkey on its march toward achieving its goal of mass immunity.
As of Sunday, more than 41 million doses had been administered in the country’s inoculation campaign, which started in January 2021. A total of 26.7 million people have received their first doses, while another 14.3 million people have now had both of the doses required for protection against the disease.
After a relatively slow start to the vaccination campaign, with challenges due to delays in vaccine shipments and an apparent hesitancy for jabs, Turkey started off the summer with a tremendous interest in the vaccination and a fast-paced campaign. In the span of a few weeks, the country's Health Ministry expanded vaccination from the elderly to younger people and started including members of different occupations one after another regardless of their age. This sudden progress in the vaccination campaign, which went on to break records with more than 1 million jabs daily, indicates that the country managed to secure more vaccine supplies and that the country is now closer to reaching the youngest age groups by the end of this month.
“Trust this power” has been Health Minister Fahrettin Koca’s social media mantra, where he ended almost every tweet about “good news” on the pandemic with it. This “power” apparently works, as a cargo plane carrying 5 million doses of CoronaVac, developed by China’s Sinovac, landed in Istanbul on Saturday. It follows another shipment last week that carried 3 million doses. Authorities announced 8 million doses had now arrived in the country in the past10 days. Vaccines, although they received emergency approval earlier, will be subject to routine analysis before they are provided to the public.
Turkey also offers Pfizer-BioNTech shots and plans to include Russia’s Sputnik V in its vaccination drive soon. It signed an agreement with Pfizer-BioNTech to purchase 90 million doses, with an option for 30 million additional doses. Universities and companies in the country are also working on seven different vaccines against the coronavirus, and at least one among them is expected to be widely available by the end of this year. Though not confirmed yet, the country may offer a locally-developed vaccine as another option for people in need of a booster. Experts say a third dose in some vaccines may be necessary six months after the second dose.
Rising interest in the vaccination, evident in long lines forming outside hospitals and clinics, is driving the campaign that is now also extended beyond hospitals. The Health Ministry's health care crews deliver shots at factories for workers, while some provinces have set up tents on busy squares to give vaccines to passersby without the need for an appointment.