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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday received his first dose of vaccine as the country has started mass vaccination against COVID-19.

After receiving the jab at a hospital in capital Ankara, Erdogan called on all political party leaders and lawmakers to urge people for endorsing the vaccine. "I believe it will be vital especially if all political leaders and MPs encourage (jabs of) the COVID-19 vaccine and strengthen the campaign."

More than 300,000 people have been vaccinated so far in Turkey, Erdogan said, adding that COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory in the country.

Turkish televisions on Thursday released footage of healthcare workers receiving their first doses as the country aims to inoculate nearly one million medical personnel first. The vaccination program will move on to the elderly, the disabled, and then to those aged 65 and above, according to the plan.

The vaccine will be applied with two doses, 28 days apart. Those who recovered from the infection will not be vaccinated in four to six months following their recovery.

Three million doses of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac company arrived in Turkey on Dec. 30, 2020.

On Wednesday, the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency approved the emergency use of the vaccine. Shortly after, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca received the jab along with Turkey's advisory science council members.

Turkey reported on Thursday 8,962 new COVID-19 cases, including 958 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 2,364,801, according to its health ministry.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 170 to 23,495, while the total recoveries climbed to 2,236,938 after 9,011 more patients recovered in the last 24 hours.

Turkey reported its first COVID-19 case on March 11, 2020.

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