With the lifting of restrictions, daily infection rates have been on the rise in Turkey recently. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board member professor Mustafa Necmi Ilhan urged citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid even higher infection rates.
“Nearly 23 million people have not been vaccinated yet,” Koca said in a tweet early Sunday.
“The number of people who haven’t got the second dose stands at 17 million,” he added, noting that the number of senior citizens and people from other special groups who require a third dose but have yet to do so stands at 9 million.
“To have the desired results, we have to complete the process fast,” he said.
“The problem now is slacking off on the precautions. Let’s take back control,” Koca concluded.
Meanwhile, professor Ilhan underlined that the recent Qurban Bayram, also known as Eid al-Adha, saw high social mobility, which led to concern and a spike in case numbers.
“We all know that gathering in crowds, especially in poorly ventilated areas and concentration of the population are the biggest factors for spike in COVID-19 case numbers,” he told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) on Saturday.
“When we take a look at it, the case numbers that dropped down to 4,900 at the beginning of this month have risen to 11,000,” he said.
“This trend seems to continue for some more time,” Ilhan added.
“To be honest, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that the caseload would be much higher now if vaccines weren’t available.”
Ilhan also said that vaccination rates are especially lower in eastern and southeastern Turkey.
“In those provinces, the case numbers get higher faster too. When we consider the relation between vaccination and the spike in case numbers, it is a must that we call upon our citizens there to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he added, underlining that local officials and health workers should encourage the population to get vaccinated.
Ilhan also added that the provinces with low vaccination rates also tend to have younger populations compared to other cities.
“There is a resistance among the youth to get vaccinated; they don’t want to get the jabs much,” he said.
“Unfortunately, some of our colleagues who are engaging in anti-vaccine efforts have a part in this, and also the disinformation on social media,” Ilhan added.
“But one of the factors that prolonged the human life expectancy from 40s to 70s, 80s is the mass vaccination,” he said.
“We have to persuade our youth. There are urban legends and myths that have not been scientifically proven,” Ilhan concluded.
Turkey has administered nearly 65.6 million COVID-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, official figures showed on Monday.
According to the Health Ministry, nearly 39.3 million people have received their first dose, while over 22.4 million are fully vaccinated.
To date, over 63% of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose.