Turkey surpassed 58 million doses in its coronavirus vaccination campaign on Monday. More than 17 million people are now receiving both doses, but the country still has a long way to go. Experts, meanwhile, warn that vaccination is essential to prevent the pandemic from taking hold with its new variants.
“The variants will set in without vaccination,” said Professor Rahmet Güner, a member of the Ministry of Health’s scientific advisory board on the coronavirus.
The vaccines are widely available in the country, including those provided by Chinese companies Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech. Still, people reluctant to get bitten worry authorities seeking mass immunity before the end of summer in the country of more than 83 million people.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned on Sunday that it was becoming “difficult” to keep the decline in cases in the “red category” provinces while indicating on an accompanying map showing the provinces with low vaccination rates marked in red. The map shows that the low rates are almost concentrated in the eastern and southeastern provinces, with Yozgat, Konya and Niğde among those having relatively lower rates compared to other provinces.
The country eased most restrictions related to the pandemic last month, following a drop in the number of daily cases. But compulsory masks, social distancing and hygiene rules prevail. Professor Güner says the delta and delta plus variants that are raging across the world are the result of the virus “seeking to mutate in order to survive, to infect more. Thus, we must take our personal responsibilities to prevent infections. Those who are vaccinated must continue to wear protective masks and ensure social distancing with others, ”he told the Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday.
“Without maintaining these (precautions), the pandemic will continue with these variants,” he warned. Güner pointed out that studies were still ongoing on the rate of delta plus infection, but current results of some studies highlight that the rate of infection and hospitalizations appear to be higher than previous strains of the coronavirus.
Turkey has so far reported three delta plus cases, while 284 delta cases have been reported in 30 provinces. None of the delta plus cases were fatal. “The more vaccines we administer, the more it will be possible to stop the development of variants, to stop the virus from multiplying,” said Güner.
Tackling vaccine skeptics and people’s reluctance to get vaccinated, however, is not an easy task in some places. Turkey carried out a particularly successful vaccination campaign over the past month thanks to the arrival of new vaccine arrivals and the extension of the campaign to all age groups except those under the age of 18. . almost everywhere, from shopping malls to town squares and, for those who live in villages, at home.
Still, the vaccine skepticism or reluctance prevalent among young people is a cause for concern, as young people are seen as more infectious hosts of COVID-19. For example, in Kocaeli, an industrial city east of Istanbul, the vaccination rate is over 61%, but local authorities say it is still below the desired level. Health workers are seeking to publicize the campaign and on Monday they took to the streets to visit cafes where crowds flocked after they fully reopened in June. Some health workers carried banners about the importance of vaccines while others tried to convince skeptics to get vaccinated.
Yüksel Pehlevan, chief of the province’s health department, says they are visiting busy places for vaccine awareness and to end the stigma in people’s minds about vaccines. Social media is teeming with conspiracy theories and fake news that vaccines cause disease. “We talk to young people. It is imperative to educate young people to increase the demand for vaccines. Vaccines are our only way to overcome the pandemic, ”he told AA.
“We have a high vaccine potential but we are still not in the desired place. We want to go blue, ”he said, referring to the color assigned to provinces with vaccination rates above 70%.
“Certainly the number of cases is decreasing but unfortunately they also increase from time to time, especially when the restrictions are relaxed,” he said.