Turkey counts down to COVID-19 vaccine rollout

2021-01-11 12:05:27 GMT2021-01-11 20:05:27(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

ANKARA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Turkey counts down to mass inoculation against the COVID-19 pandemic while experts have called on all to show no hesitance towards the vaccination program.

Samples of the CoronaVac vaccine brought to Turkey's capital Ankara last week are undergoing testing in Health Ministry's labs for emergency use approval, press reports said.

The samples delivered on Dec. 30, 2020 are being tested in accordance with the routine quality control and results are expected soon, according to Daily Sabah.

Health care staff and nursing homes will be the first to receive the vaccines later this month, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said last week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said last Friday the mass vaccination process against the pandemic would soon start.

Erdogan told reporters that the health ministry has been continuing its work to launch the vaccination process in line with a calendar.

"Currently, we have three (vaccine) sources, namely from China, Germany, and our domestic (products)," he said.

The ministry had earlier announced that Turkey would purchase up to 30 million doses of Germany-based BioNTech's vaccine, which was developed jointly with the U.S. firm Pfizer.

Experts are calling Turks to be present at inoculation centers when called and are trying to dissipate fears that they may have.

Vaccination is not mandatory for now in Turkey, and authorities rely on people's willingness to boost their immunity through jabs.

However, there is mistrust among some people against vaccines, like in other countries. But recent reports have shown that more people are open to vaccines than before after seeing the impact of the outbreak on society.

Experts have repeatedly asked people to trust the vaccines while prominent figures like Erdogan and Koca announced that they would get inoculated publicly to set an example.

"Mistrust against vaccines are unfounded. Thanks to vaccines, polio and measles have been eradicated, saving millions of lives," Gule Cinar, a virologist from an Ankara hospital told Xinhua.

This doctor has witnessed for nearly a year the ravages of the coronavirus against which she is still fighting with a dedicated team that has sacrificed a lot. She stressed that the vaccine is for now the only way to get rid of this disease.

"Once we achieve a high level of immunity, we will go back to our old lives. Without the vaccine, this won't be possible. Everyone should trust the vaccines," she insisted.

"But as long as doubts remain, the vaccination campaigns will take longer. If we can complete the campaign on time, we can all relax a little bit more by summer," Ates Kara, a member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, told Demiroren News Agency.

Explaining that at least some parts of life, like education, need to return to normal as soon as possible, Kara said vaccines are "the strongest weapon" humans have against the pandemic.

Indicating that the country has witnessed significant drops in confirmed cases since the introduction of weekend lockdowns and curfew last November, Kara said the measures proved their effectiveness, and shouldn't be eased prematurely.

The health ministry on Sunday reported 9,138 daily coronavirus cases, down from around 30,000 before the restrictions were reimposed. The country's total infection tally is over 2.3 million.

The vaccine will be administered by the ministry's COVID-19 vaccine application units, which will be established in family health centers as well as in private and university hospitals.

Tevfik Ozlu, a professor of thoracic medicine and a member of the Coronavirus Science Advisory Board, called on Turks not to let their guards down even if they get a jab in the coming weeks or months.

"We need to have the majority of people vaccinated to return to our normal lives. As long as the virus remains, we have to comply with rules," he noted during a television program, adding that mask wearing should be a must until further notice. Enditem