Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, 73, and İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener, 64, on Jan. 15 got the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I hope that we will get rid of this pandemic very soon, and I invite all people to get vaccinated,” Bahçeli said on Twitter and shared a photo of him getting vaccinated.
Sağlık Bakanımız Sayın Fahrettin Koca’nın daveti üzerine, başarıyla devam eden aşı programımız dahilinde ben de covid-19 virüsü aşımı yaptırdım. İnşallah bu salgından el birliği ile çok yakın zamanda kurtulacağımızı ümit ediyor, tüm halkımızı da aşı olmaya davet ediyorum. pic.twitter.com/TtbmfDXNIx— Devlet Bahçeli (@dbdevletbahceli) January 15, 2021
On Jan. 14, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged party chairs to endorse the inoculation process and to get vaccinated as soon as possible in an attempt to alleviate any public doubts over the effectiveness of the vaccine.
“Just like he called all leaders, Fahrettin Koca also called me last night and invited me to get vaccinated. With the belief that party leaders should be a pioneer for our society with regards to the vaccination issue, I have also received my shot,” Akşener wrote on Twitter.
Sayın @drfahrettinkoca tüm liderler gibi beni de, dün akşam arayarak aşı olmaya davet etti.⁰⁰— Meral Akşener (@meral_aksener) January 15, 2021
Parti liderlerinin aşı konusunda toplumumuza ön ayak olması gerektiği inancıyla ben de aşı oldum.
Bu vesileyle iktidarı, aşı süreci için yaptığımız önerileri uygulamaya çağırıyorum.
Koca later released a message on Twitter thanking both Bahçeli and Akşener for “accepting” his call.
Turkey began administering COVID-19 shots developed by China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd to health workers on Jan. 14. As of 2.37 p.m. local time on Jan. 15, the Health Ministry data showed that the country inoculated 523,338 people in two days.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also received his first dose of the vaccine in Ankara on Jan. 14. Along with Erdoğan, members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)'s Central Executive Board (MYK) also got inoculated, which led to severe criticism on social media.
Several people asked why a 23-year-old AKP MYK member was more “privileged” than those aged above 65 -- the second group to get vaccinated once the vaccination of health workers is completed.
CHP, HDP chairs to wait for their turn to take the shot
Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, 72, on Jan. 15 announced he will get vaccinated but wait for “his turn.”
“Health Minister called me and invited me to get vaccinated. I, as the citizen Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, will wait for my return. Firstly, health workers need to get vaccinated, Kılıçdaroğlu said during a party event.
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Pervin Buldan, 53, and Mithat Sancar, 58, similarly announced that they will get vaccinated but only when their “turn” comes.
“According to the evaluation we have undertaken with our party Health and Social Policies Commission, this invitation [of Health Minister Koca] is not in line with the vaccination program that has been put regulated for previously-determined risk groups, chronic patients and health workers,” they said in a written statement on Jan. 15.