Erdoğan urges parents, teachers to get COVID-19 vaccine
“All citizens can easily access the vaccine and it is free. Considering the problems other countries are facing, this is a great success. We do not want to resort to means of forcing people [to get vaccinated] but we need to seize the opportunity the vaccine provides as the most effective weapon against the pandemic,” said Erdoğan on Sept. 6 at a ceremony at a school in Istanbul, marking the start of classes.
The president urged parents and teachers as well as all eligible people to have their jabs, noting that the number of the coronavirus vaccines administered in Turkey is nearing 100 million doses.
“We are determined to continue face-to-face education. We are closely following the course the pandemic is taking,” Erdoğan also said.
Some 18 million students and over 1.1 million teachers returned to schools under strict rules for in-class education, which had been halted shortly after the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Turkey in March last year.
Under the new rules for face-to-face education, unvaccinated teachers and other school staff are required to take PCR tests twice a week.
As school buses hit the roads for the first time in nearly more than one and a half years, the country’s large cities, particularly Istanbul faced heavy traffic and congestion, but apparently, parents are happy that children are back in school.
“Last year was difficult for us. I am hoping that this year will be different,” said Gülsüm Türüdü, a parent, who dropped her two children at the school. She said that they instructed the children to be very careful and avoid crowds.
Ayşe Taşkın, a grandmother, also complained about the difficulties stemming from keeping children at home.
“I have two grandchildren. They spent the whole day in front of computers. They learned nothing. Face-to-face education is much better. We gave the children disinfectants and face masks and instructed them to wash their hands regularly,” Taşkın said.
Meanwhile, Turkey has lowered the eligibility age for the COVID-19 vaccine to those aged 12 and above.
Last week, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that children at 12 with chronic illnesses will be entitled to the coronavirus vaccine.
The Health Ministry, however, on Sept. 5, said that all children irrespective of their health conditions will be able to get the virus jab.
The COVID-19 vaccine for all children aged 12 will not be mandatory, but their parents’ consent will be sought.