Turkey widens vaccination campaign to include those over 45

Turkey on Thursday widened its COVID-19 vaccination drive, with those aged 45 and over now included in the ongoing nationwide inoculation program.

Speaking after a Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Committee meeting on the previous day, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said people aged 40 and over would also be allowed to take their shots on June 14.

“Now, our agenda is how to get back to our old normals by obtaining immunity with the vaccination program,” Koca said. “The hard days are now behind.”

Almost 32 million vaccines have been administered across the country with a total population of 83 million, according to the latest data released on the Health Ministry’s website. More than 18.5 million people have received their first jab and 13.4 million the second.

In Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey with a population of 16 million, the vaccination rate hit 33 percent, including both first and second doses.

The city recorded 64 infections for every 100,000 people between May 29 and June 4, the lowest rate of infection since the epidemic began, according to local health authorities.

Turkey launched its nationwide rollout on Jan. 14 with a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech and has recently included the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs in the program.