Turkey will begin to administer a fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine starting with certain groups while widening the scope of the jab program to include children.
Since some countries require at least two doses of the Pzifer/BioNTech vaccine for entry, the fourth dose will be made available for those who have already received two doses of the Sinovac and one dose of the Pzifer/BioNTech jabs, the Health Ministry said on Aug. 16.
Under the new rules set for the vaccination program, which the ministry announced, healthcare workers and other priority groups are also now entitled to the fourth dose of the coronavirus jab.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that there is no situation which necessitates people who have been given two doses of mRNA vaccines or three doses of inactivated jabs to get an additional dose. “From the medical point of view there is no need [for the fourth dose].”
“This is a new arrangement designed specifically to comply with the rules of the countries that require two doses of mRNA jabs,” Koca wrote on Twitter.
Turkey, which launched the vaccination program on Jan. 14 starting with healthcare workers and the elderly, is using both the vaccines developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac and Pfizer/BioNTech.
However, Sinovac is not among the vaccines the EU and the U.S. have approved.
The fourth doses will be given 21 days after the third doses is administered, according to the new set of rules. Moreover, people who test positive for the coronavirus can get vaccinated a month later. This time period had previously been three months.
The ministry also said that the coronavirus vaccination program has expanded to include children over 12 with chronic illness and those at least 15 years old as the country is preparing to reopen schools for face-to-face education early September.
Authorities, including Koca, have repeatedly said there will be no delay and in-class education start on Sept. 6 as already planned.
Koca recently said the parents of the students will either complete their vaccinations or have regular PCR tests to prove that they do not have the disease.
“It is impossible for us to give up face-to-face education,” he said last week, noting that the ministry will take measures to ensure that all teachers and lecturers are vaccinated.
Since the start of the inoculations, the scope of the jab program has been gradually widened by reducing the eligibility age for the vaccine.
The country’s vaccination drive gathered pace recently while the daily virus cases are still hovering at around 20,000.
Last week alone, over 7.3 million doses of the coronavirus jabs, including the first, second and third doses, were administered.
According to data from the Health Ministry, to date, more than 41 million people have received the first dose while more than 33 million people have been fully vaccinated. Nearly 7 million people have been given their third doses.
Hurriyet Daily News