Turkey will secure 12 million doses of the BioNTech vaccine starting this week, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
The deliveries will be completed by next weekend, Koca told journalists after a cabinet meeting on Monday, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
“If delivery takes place as planned, we can start to vaccinate people as young as 20 years old at the end of June,” he said.
Last month, Turkey sealed a deal for the delivery of 90 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab, increasing the total number to be supplied this year to 120 million.
BioNTech aims to deliver 30 million doses of the vaccine by the end of June, Uğur Şahin, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said on May 20.
Turkey has fully vaccinated some 12.6 million people, with another four million having received the first of two required doses, according to Health Ministry figures.
Turkey began its vaccination campaign in mid-January. The country has struggled to secure enough supplies to cover the 84 million population, predominantly relying on the Chinese-made CoronaVac.
At least 60 percent of the population should be vaccinated to achieve mass immunity, Koca said. The government will not recommend that people remove their face masks in public until vaccinations are widespread, he said.
“Only those who are vaccinated then may be exempt from the mask-wearing obligation,” he said.
Turkey reported 7,112 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, increasing total infections since the outbreak to 5,256,516, the fifth highest total globally after the United States, India, Brazil and France. The death toll rose by 129 to 47,656, Health Ministry data showed.