Turkey considers introducing a strict vaccination card procedure. People who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 might face restrictions.
While scientists across the world continue to argue about the finer details, they have been unanimous on one thing – vaccines are currently humanity’s best bet against the coronavirus pandemic.
With the lack of actual, effective treatment, COVID-19 vaccines are the only way for the apparently never-ending lockdowns to be over for good and for life to return to normal, scientists say.
Yet, for some people, coronavirus vaccines remain a contentious issue. For them, the jabs that many tout as the saviors of humanity were developed far too quickly for comfort. Fueled by rampant misinformation circulating on social media, a considerable amount of people have voiced concerns about the safety of the vaccines, saying they have been developed rather quickly compared to vaccines against other diseases.
Vaccine hesitancy, as it has been named, has been a thorn in Turkey’s fight against the pandemic, like many other countries.
The Health Ministry previously introduced persuasion teams, whose sole goal is to find people who refuse to get vaccinated despite having a shot reserved under their name and change their minds.
The teams have been working around the clock to answer people’s questions and convince them to trust in science.
But it seems the government is planning for a more drastic plan B that will impose several restrictions on people who refuse to get vaccinated to stop them from socializing and spread the virus.
According to several local media reports, the full list of restrictions is yet to be finalized and it includes measures such as barring people without vaccines from entry to malls, restaurants, theaters or cinemas.
Vaccination records could be added to the Health Ministry’s coronavirus tracking app Hayat Eve Sığar (HES), the reports said, which is already mandatory for almost every aspect of life across the country.
While Turkey has previously said the vaccines would not be made mandatory, the goal of the plan B seems to inconvenience the vaccine dodgers into giving in and having their shots.
It also aims to protect vaccine refusers as people who had their COVID-19 vaccines can still get sick and infect others.
According to recent research cited by the reports, vaccine hesitancy and apathy toward vaccination runs high in people between the ages of 18 and 35.
The new restrictions, if they ever actually get imposed, will target people between the ages of 18 and 50, the reports said.
Vaccination is not mandatory in Turkey. Yet, experts warn that, under current circumstances, abstaining from vaccination poses a hazard to public health.
The country so far administered more than 31 million shots in the campaign, which started with health care workers in January 2021.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca had earlier said that they planned to lower the eligibility age for vaccination to 20 by the end of June, though it seems a difficult goal. But most experts say the pandemic may recede in the autumn, with intense inoculation drive throughout the summer.