Turkish opposition leaders refuse early vaccination offer by government

RUDAW –  16 Jan 2020 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The leaders of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have refused a government offer to receive the COVID-19 vaccination early, saying they will allow at-risk groups to be prioritized.

Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca invited political leaders to be vaccinated in the initial days of the vaccination campaign, which began on Thursday.


Koca, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the leaders of both nationalist parties, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and IYI Party, were among government officials vaccinated.

HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar refused the offer, saying “this invitation is not suitable for the vaccination program organized for those people who were previously decided to be at-risk, chronic patients and health workers,” according to a joint statement by both leaders.

They added that they will wait for their turn to come, then get vaccinated.

CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu has also refused to be among the first to receive the vaccine.

“I will wait my turn… Health workers must be vaccinated first because they are in direct contact with patients, they work 24/7. The efforts of healthcare workers are above everything else,” he said, reported the independent Bianet.

Koca said on Friday that, since Thursday, over 500,000 health workers have been vaccinated with CoronaVac – a vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech.

Koca thanked leaders of both the HDP and CHP for their “support” for his ministry’s campaign, confirming he had invited them for early vaccination.

Turkey’s Medicines and Medical Devices Agency said on Wednesday it has green-lighted the use of the vaccine. It is not clear whether it will made available to the whole population, or solely those at high-risk of contracting the virus.

The vaccine underwent studies in Turkey, Brazil and Indonesia, but the results are controversial. Some researchers say it is over 50 percent effective at protecting against the virus, while Turkey has claimed it is over 90 percent.

Ankara has announced weekend lockdowns and evening curfews in a bid to curb the spread of the new variant of coronavirus. Turkey has recorded 2.37 million cases of coronavirus and 23,664 deaths.