Turkey boasts a strong, technologically advanced system for distributing coronavirus vaccines to millions of people, with special equipment, tracking numbers, and dedicated infrastructure to ensure public safety.

Starting as early as this week, Turkey is set to distribute vaccines nationwide with the help of special storage chambers featuring air-conditioning and adjustable temperatures of 20 to minus 20 C (68 to -4 F).

The first batch of Chinese Sinovac company’s CoronaVac vaccine, containing 3 million doses, was brought to Turkey on Dec. 30 and is currently being kept in special storage at the Health Ministry in the capital Ankara.

Since the vaccine’s arrival, health officials have tested random samples of the vaccine in laboratories, and if no problems are found and the vaccine gets emergency use approval, it will be distributed by special ministry vehicles.

The ministry’s central storage in Ankara has more than 10 special cold-chamber devices offering suitable distribution environments for the vaccines; these vehicles are eco-friendly and also have low sound emissions.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak last year, the vehicles have been used to carry test materials, drugs, and samples; furthermore, they can be monitored in real time. Following the route set by the ministry, they will distribute vaccines to all corners of the country.

Once the vaccines are delivered to local authorities, they will be protected by storing them in cold-chamber vehicles with volumes of up to 13 cubic meters (460 cubic feet), then delivered to vaccination points set by authorities.

-Turkey’s robust cold-chain infrastructure

Turkey has a strong cold-chain infrastructure ensuring the protection of a vaccine from the moment of its production to its distribution; all storage units where vaccines are kept are outfitted with backup systems and generators, and the temperature of each unit is monitored through multiple methods.

Thanks to Turkey’s special Vaccine Tracking System introduced in 2014, all the vaccines are given a tracking ID so authorities know where they are at all stages.

By checking the tracking number, authorities confirm the vaccine’s expiration date and status in the cold-chain system. Health professionals can also use the system to monitor the procurement process and guard against any fake vaccines.

This system stands as the first and only integrated system for vaccine safety and administration; it was developed locally, and the Health Ministry owns its intellectual property rights.

*Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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