Vax hesitancy hampers Turkey’s Covid response

Vaccine hesitancy in Turkey is disrupting the country’s efforts to bring down its new daily cases of Covid-19, which are hovering at over 20,000, according to authorities.

“There are 11.3 million people who haven’t got their second dose of vaccine. Furthermore, 6 million citizens haven’t received their third booster shots,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters at a recent press conference.

“We cannot fight against the pandemic like this,” he added.

The Minister lamented that vaccine hesitancy was hampering Turkey’s mass vaccination drive and called on all citizens to unite in the fight against the pandemic, reports Xinhua news agency.

Till date, some 63 per cent of people aged over 18 have been fully vaccinated against the virus, according to official data.

The nation of 83 million people has lowered the age for vaccine eligibility to 12 as schools reopened on September 6 after a long hiatus, but figures are disappointing specialists.

Health experts have announced that 27 per cent of teachers are unvaccinated in Turkey, where vaccination is not mandatory.

They also warned about a possible rise in daily cases in the coming weeks, which could cause a return to online education.

“Despite all the data available on the effectiveness of vaccines, there are many people who refuse to get vaccinated, causing a threat to the entire population,” Guner Sonmez, a professor of medicine, tweeted.

He warned that unvaccinated people are 32 times more likely to die from Covid-19 and 49 times more likely to be hospitalised than those who are vaccinated.

“But despite the available scientific data, people still believe what Facebook experts write falsely on Covid-19. It is a shame,” Sonmez said.

Professor Alper Sener, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, said people are avoiding vaccination based on “hearsay about vaccines.”

Experts say vaccine reluctance also lingers among younger people, who falsely believe that they won’t be affected from infection as much as the elderly.