Low vaccination provinces pose risks, warns health minister

Low vaccination provinces pose risks, warns health minister

Low vaccination provinces pose risks, warns health minister

It is difficult to maintain the decline in COVID-19 in Turkish provinces where the vaccinations against the virus remain below the country average, the country’s health minister has warned.

Data from the Health Ministry show that nearly 61 percent of the population aged above 18 have received their first doses of the coronavirus jab but some provinces, most of them in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions, are lacking behind with vaccination rates below 55 percent.

For instance, in the eastern province of Bitlis only 31 percent of the population aged above 18 have been given the first shot whereas the corresponding rates are 32 percent for Siirt and a little over 32 percent in Şanlıurfa.

“It is increasingly becoming difficult to keep the pace of the decline in virus cases under control in the red category [indicating low vaccination rates] provinces. Get your shot as soon as possible to join the fight [against the pandemic],” Koca wrote on Twitter on July 11.

Whereas, in the southwestern province of Muğla at least 82 percent of the city’s residents have received their first doses. The vaccination rate in Çanakkale, a western province, is well above the country average at 76 percent and in the northwestern province of Kırklareli nearly 76 of the population have been given their first doses of the COVID-19 jabs.

Professor Mustafa Necmi İlhan from the Health Ministry’s Science Board linked the low vaccination rate in those provinces to the demographics. “Young population is high in those regions and this could be the reason that they lack behind in the inoculation drive. Young people tend to be more complacent and are not willing to take the shot,” İlhan said.

As far as the country’s three largest cities are concerned, the vaccination rate there are above the national average.

The jabbing rate in Istanbul is over 61 percent, in Ankara nearly 70 percent of its population have been given the first dose of the vaccine and in the western province of İzmir, the vaccination rate is also above 70 percent.

Since the start of the inoculation drive on Jan. 14, Turkey has administered nearly 59 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with over 17 million people now fully vaccinated, which corresponds to nearly 28 percent of the entire population aged above 18.

Turkey recently also started administering the third doses of the jab, also known as the “booster,” to those previously received two shots of the inactivated vaccine developed by the Chinese firm Sinovac.

Prof. Dr. Bülent Ertuğrul, an expert in infectious diseases, warned that the upcoming 11-day Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday may pose risks, pointing that the Delta variant of the virus is spreading.

“If people do not take necessary precautions and if we do not accelerate vaccinations, we may see a fourth peak in the pandemic around August or September,” Ertuğrul said.

He added that the effectiveness of one dose of the virus against the Delta variant is only 40 percent, and Turkey is still far away from achieving social immunity, urging people to exercise the utmost caution.