Turkey’s Erdogan under fire over third vaccine dose

Turkey’s Erdogan under fire over third vaccine dose
Despite vaccine shortages, Turkish President Erdogan has now received three shots of the Covid-19 vaccine. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 24 May 2023

Turkey’s Erdogan under fire over third vaccine dose

Turkey’s Erdogan under fire over third vaccine dose
  • President received 3 shots while country struggles to procure enough for key workers
  • Reuters: Less than 20% of Turks have received 2 doses

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under fire after it was revealed that he has received three COVID-19 vaccine doses despite his country struggling to procure enough for key workers.

Erdogan, 67, received his first dose of China’s Sinovac vaccine in January and a second shot in February.

This week he admitted that he had had a third dose in March, but did not say whether it was the Sinovac or Pfizer-BioNtech jab, which Turkey has also purchased.

At the time that he was receiving his third shot, ordinary Turks were being made to wait as long as 12 weeks — rather than the recommended four — to receive their second shot due to a shortage of vaccines in the country.

Engin Ozkoc, head of the main opposition Republican Peoples’ Party’s parliamentary group, said: “There is not even one dose for citizens but three for Erdogan.”

Nearly 50,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, which has been struggling to roll out vaccine doses quickly. According to Reuters, less than 20 percent of Turks have received two doses.

Tourism workers have been prioritized as part of Ankara’s efforts to kickstart the industry, which accounts for more than 10 percent of Turkey’s gross domestic product and has been battered by the pandemic. 

But other key workers such as teachers have had to wait longer to receive their vaccinations. According to Turkish rules, anyone who has tested positive for the virus is barred from receiving their vaccinations for six months.

Reuters said the rate of vaccination in Turkey, which has a population of over 80 million, means it will take another 102 days to administer enough doses to protect another 10 percent. Turkey is recording over 6,000 news cases of COVID-19 every day.