By Haruna Gimba
Turkey on Thursday launched a mass vaccination program against COVID-19 with the vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac Company.
The Turkish Health Ministry said the first doses will be given to over one million health workers across the country, followed by adults living in nursing homes.
The vaccination of healthcare workers in the country’s biggest city Istanbul with a population of 16.5 million is expected to be completed within two days, according to Nurettin Yiyit, the chief doctor of the Feriha Oz Emergency Hospital.
The hospital, which was built in 2020 to treat specifically COVID-19 patients, allocated 30 vaccination rooms to conduct the program in the quickest way possible.
“We can do the injections to up to 1,800 people per day, when the vaccination started simultaneously in all the rooms. This figure could go up if needed,” he noted.
Yiyit told Xinhua that the hospital received 1,000 appointments for the first day.
Hale Erisir, who has been working as an anesthetist at the hospital, came to the vaccination center early in the morning to get her jab done after taking her appointment through an online system.
Erisir has been fighting actively at the forefront against the coronavirus since the pandemic erupted in the country in mid-March 2020.
“I have always believed in the positive effects of vaccines, and I am sure that this program has the strength to end the pandemic. We expects everyone to get vaccinated,” Erisir told Xinhua.
The entire process is administered in all 81 provinces through an online system and a mobile application, which can also track the long-term side effects of the vaccine.
On Wednesday, the health ministry granted the emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinovac after completing the necessary safety tests.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and the members of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board have gotten their vaccines during a live broadcast after granting the authorization.
“This vaccination drive is needed to return to our normal, old way of life,” Koca said, urging people to get vaccinated. He earlier announced that the Sinovac’s vaccines were 91.25 percent effective in trials in the country,” he said.
Turkey received the first shipment of 3 million doses of vaccines from China at the end of December, as part of a deal for a total of 50 million, and expects to get the rest in the upcoming period.