With 20.5 million who had both their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, reaching the 70% target in achieving mass immunity may seem far away, but undaunted health care workers of Turkey work day and night for the inoculation drive.
Their efforts helped the country to reach daily vaccination numbers of 1 million at times but their work is not done, especially in the face of vaccine hesitancy and due to people in remote areas unable to travel to hospitals and other venues for vaccination.
In the eastern regions where vaccination rates are reported to be low, crews scale the mountains to reach more people. A reported hesitancy, especially among the youth, and the rough terrain of the region cause challenges for the inoculation drive. Still, these difficulties have not hindered crews from visiting everywhere, from inner-city shops to remote villages far away from the nearest clinic.
In Bitlis, vaccination crews fight smothering weather and challenging terrain to find those who did not have their jabs yet. Some try to convince those who hesitate at getting their jabs while others administer doses to those who cannot afford to go to the nearest town for their shots.
Dr. Irem Yorulmaz, an official from Tatvan Directorate of Health in the eponymous district of the eastern province, says their vaccination campaign takes them everywhere, from shopping malls to the shores of Lake Van, to the mountainous villages and fields where laborers have little time for vaccination in the city.
“Our teams sacrifice their time to reach more people but we are worried about people resisting the vaccination. They don’t want to get vaccinated because of speculative rumors,” she told Anadolu Agency (AA), referring to conspiracy theories by vaccine skeptics. “Certainly, there are challenges but we are ready to do whatever we can if only people are willing to get vaccinated,” she said.