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Turkey set to start COVID-vaccination on Thursday13 January 2021

Health care staff will be first group of people to receive shots, health minister says

Turkey is set to start the COVID-vaccination campaign on Thursday with health care staff, the country's top health official announced Wednesday.

"It's our top priority to run the vaccination program in a transparent manner," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Speaking after a Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board meeting in the capital Ankara, he explained that by getting vaccinated, senior officials would be "setting an example" for the public to follow suit.

"Vaccines were delivered to the public health depots of 81 provinces," he said, adding that "today is the first day of a new era."

Each individual will be assigned vaccine doses by name with a barcode, Koca added, saying: "We're determined to administer the vaccine and comply with measures and restrictions until the pandemic comes to an end."

"I want you to be sure that the vaccine will be distributed fairly and that there will be no other practice other than the priority set by the [Coronavirus] Scientific Board. People who will be vaccinated in accordance with the acquisition plan will be notified when it is their turn and will go to get their vaccinations by appointment."

Later, Koca became the first person in Turkey to receive the recently delivered Chinese COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac. "I want to underline that everyone must be vaccinated. We must definitely get the vaccine to return to our normal daily lives."

"I said earlier that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Today is such a day. I believe the coming days will be bright."

Following the minister, the committee members were vaccinated, as well.

Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey's official drug and medical equipment body approved CoronaVac for emergency use against the novel coronavirus.

Following evaluations of the doses, the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency (TITCK) announced that it had authorized the vaccine known as CoronaVac which was developed by Beijing-based company SinoVac.

Three million doses of the vaccine produced by SinoVac reached Turkey on Dec. 30 and were transferred to a medical storage facility of the Health Ministry. Samples of the vaccine were then taken to a laboratory of TITCK for a testing period of 14 days.

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