Turkey has announced that all teachers and school staff over the age of 40 are now eligible to receive vaccinations after administering over 26.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since launching a mass vaccination campaign on Jan. 14.
“Today the appointment system opened for teachers and school staff aged over 40. You can apply online to get a date for the jabs,” Education Minister Ziya Selçuk wrote on his Twitter account late May 18.
He did not mention how many people would be in this group, but instead gave a general number.
“Until now, we have arranged vaccinations for our 752,600 colleagues,” said Selçuk.
As of late May 18, a total of 26,720,087 doses have been administered in Turkey.
In total, more than 15.3 million people have received their first doses, while over 11.4 million have been fully vaccinated.
Turkey’s overall case tally is now over 5.13 million, while the nationwide death toll reached 45,186, with 203 more fatalities over the past day.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca late on May 18 uploaded a map of Turkey on his Twitter account showing the weekly total number of cases per 100,000 people.
The total number of cases per 100,000 people by province between May 8 and 14 was 184.78 in the metropolis of Istanbul, 152.63 in the capital Ankara, and 93.86 in the western province of İzmir.
Koca said the provinces that have shown the greatest decline in case numbers over the last week were Kastamonu in the Black Sea region, Tekirdağ and Istanbul in the northwest, Bayburt in the northeast and Zonguldak, also in the Black Sea region.
With 192.28, Erzurum topped the list with the highest total number of cases per 100,000 people. Istanbul was a runner-up and the eastern province of Ağrı was third with 182.84.
The Black Sea province of Rize was fourth with 167.27 cases per 100,000 and the northwestern province of Bilecik was fifth with 156.37.
“It is in our hands to make this good course permanent. We succeeded before, we can do it again,” he added.
The five provinces with the least total number of cases per 100,000 people last week were all southern and southeastern provinces, including Kahramanmaraş, Şırnak, Adana, Hatay and Osmaniye – all which have registered below 50 cases.
Separately, cases in Istanbul plunged by 600 percent from mid-April in Istanbul, said Kemal Memişoğlu, the head of city’s provincial health directorate, but noted that the vaccination rate among people aged between 55 and 64 is still low, with only 62 percent having been vaccinated.
“We can make appointments daily for 170,000 vaccinations, but we only get demands for around 30,000. Especially the group aged between 55 and 65 should come to get inoculated,” Memişoğlu said at a press conference on May 18.
He noted that there were no issues over the supply of both vaccines Turkey is currently using: Pfizer/BioNTech and Sinovac, from which patients can choose.
“The cases decreased by 600 percent in the province. This is a huge success. We hope it will go on like this,” he added.
Hurriyet Daily News