Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusals appear to be main stumbling blocks in achieving herd immunity, an expert has said.
“In terms of reaching herd immunity through vaccination against COVID-19, we are not there yet. We need to vaccinate at least 80 percent of the population to meet this target, but vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal seem to be the major obstacles,” said Professor İftahar Köksal from Acıbabem University’s department of infectious diseases, speaking at the 20th national family practice congress held online.
He described vaccine hesitancy as the distrust in the jab or of the jab provider. “Those who show vaccine hesitancy, have second thoughts…at times, it is not easy to talk them into getting their jabs,” Köksal explained.
Since it began its inoculation program in January, Turkey has administered more than 108.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Around 70 million people – or nearly 80 percent of the population aged 18 and above – have been double jabbed, while some 60 million people, which account for close to 90 percent of the adult population, have been given their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
Moreover, some 12 million people have received their third doses.
Turkey is using the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA COVID-19 vaccine and the jab developed by the Chinese company Sinovac.
The recipients of the Sinovac vaccine, which was the first jab put in use in Turkey, were already receiving their third doses, but last week Turkey started giving the booster shots to those who have already received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Experts and officials were complaining that the vaccination drive lost steam at a time when the number of daily new infections were hovering at around 30,000, even though they recently declined below 25,000 cases.
In July and August, some days, more than 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would be administered. However, since mid-October, mostly less than 200,000 doses have been administered daily.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca revealed that the weekly COVID-19 incidence rates in Turkey’s largest city Istanbul and İzmir, the third largest by population, increased, while it declined in Ankara.
Hurriyet daily News