Thu, 06 May 2021

ISTANBUL, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Turkish citizens aged 55 and over have flocked to hospitals after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that the group is allowed to receive their COVID-19 vaccines, local media reported on Tuesday.

Long queues could be seen in front of hospitals on Monday evening, especially in Turkey's biggest cities of Istanbul and Ankara, according to the Sozcu daily.

Although appointments were made online, many people were made to wait for about an hour in Ankara City Hospital to get vaccinated, it said.

Media footage also showed long lines inside the Sultangazi Haseki Training and Research Hospital in Istanbul.

Koca urged those to get their jabs via Twitter the previous day, saying that Turkey moved to a new phase in its vaccination program.

"As soon as I heard the call, I wanted to take my appointment through the mobile app of the ministry," Yildiz Saygun, a 55-year-old Istanbul resident, told Xinhua.

But the app has crashed several times across the country due to the volume of usage.

"After logging into the system, I saw that even the evening hours on Monday were fully booked," she added.

The minister noted that the program would continue steadily, depending on vaccines supplies.

Turkey launched its nationwide rollout on Jan. 14 with a COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech and recently included the Pfizer-BioNTech jabs in the program.

So far, over 20.2 million vaccines have been administered across the country, according to the latest data by the Health Ministry.

Turkey reported a record of 341 new COVID-19 deaths on Monday and a total of 55,149 new COVID-19 cases, the data also showed.

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