Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has called on university students to “immediately” get their vaccine shots against COVID-19, warning that the virus is spreading fast among the young population.
“The average age of the infected people has started to go down after the reopening of schools… Nearly 40 percent of current active cases include people under the age of 23,” Koca said in a statement released after a meeting of the Health Ministry’s Science Board, which advises the government on the pandemic.
The minister warned that as in-person education has resumed in universities, this would further increase mobility. “I invited university students to get their shots and get fully vaccinated as soon as possible,” Koca said.
Last month millions of elementary, secondary and high school students returned to schools after an 18-month break for face-to-face education.
But, Koca also noted that the vaccination drive in the country was losing steam.
Koca recently revealed that up to 7.5 million people aged 18 and above have not yet received any doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while another 6 million have skipped the third dose of the coronavirus jab.
Those 6 million citizens are the people who have already been given two doses of the inactivated vaccine developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac but have not yet received the booster shot.
Turkey started its inoculation program in January with the Sinovac vaccine, and after the arrival of the Pzifer/BioNTech mRNA shot in April, the jab drive gained momentum.
At times, more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 were administered daily, but presently, the number of vaccine doses given is around 200,000.
Some 200,000 and 300,000 people who received their Sinovac vaccines six months ago are losing their immunity against the coronavirus each day, and on a daily basis, around 30,000 people are getting their third doses.
An expert links those low figures to “vaccine hesitancy.”
“My observation is that the elderly people tend to choose the inactivated jab over the BioNTech, or they do not get the vaccine at all. The underlying reason for that, I believe, is vaccine hesitancy. Those who have been given two doses of the inactivated jab are recommended to get the BioNTech vaccine as the booster shot. People probably think receiving vaccines so often could be harmful. But this is not true,” said Professor Bülent Ertuğrul, an expert in infectious diseases.
The number of fully vaccinated people accounts for some 55 percent of the country’s entire population.
Hurriyet Daily News