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Turkey begins offering COVID-19 vaccine to residents 75 and over

Turkey begins offering COVID-19 vaccine to residents 75 and over

Turkey managed to inoculate more than 1.5 million people against the coronavirus in two weeks, and the campaign continues at full speed. On Thursday, the vaccination efforts were expanded to people at the age of 75 and above.

People are receiving CoronaVAC, developed by China’s Sinovac, an inactive vaccine the country started receiving shipments of last month. Health care workers were the first to receive the shots, and under a mass vaccination plan, the elderly citizens are next in line. The age limit will gradually drop in line with the plan. People living in nursing homes and nonagerians were in the first group broadly described as “people at the age of 65 and above.” The elderly and frail citizens unable to leave their homes are vaccinated at home by health care workers.

Citizens at the age of 75 and above will be able to get appointments from hospitals and neighborhood clinics across the country to receive the vaccine. The Health Ministry’s internet portal, smartphone apps and a hotline allow citizens to easily schedule an appointment in the nearest clinic equipped with designated vaccination rooms separated from other facilities.

CoronaVac was the first vaccine to gain emergency-use approval by health authorities in Turkey, following a meticulous analysis process. The government plans to acquire more vaccines from Sinovac and is in talks with other companies for the acquisition of vaccines.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who issued a written statement after a meeting of his ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board Wednesday evening, said the “army of health care workers were armed (with vaccines) and our elderly are under protection” thanks to the inoculation. Koca also pointed out a drop of up to 80% in the number of coronavirus cases thanks to restrictions. But he warned the public to continue complying with measures to prevent another surge in the outbreak. “There is still a high risk in the world from the coronavirus,” he underlined.

Wearing protective masks against the coronavirus is mandatory in public across the country. Turkey also enforces nighttime curfews on weekdays and a partial nationwide lockdown on weekends. Restaurants and other businesses where crowding occurs, as well as schools, have also been shut down.

Koca said that although the decline is evident, it is “slow.” “We still have daily cases fluctuating between 5,000 and 7,000,” he lamented. “In this stage of our struggle, getting together in crowded, enclosed environments can take us farther from our goal to see better days. I urge all of our citizens to adhere to measures and restrictions at a maximum level. Any uncontrolled relaxation of measures can lead us to face new surges we cannot recover from easily. Bear in mind that the outbreak was spread to the world from one person,” he warned.