National mobilization is a must

National mobilization is a must

It is so unfortunate that though 16 months have passed since Turkey and most parts of the world encountered the COVID-19 pandemic reality and more so after so much discussion about the need to achieve at least 65-70 percent vaccination rate before we might feel relatively safe, there are still people who are against vaccinations.

It is a must to launch a national mobilization campaign. And as has been the case in recent days, through a colossal vaccination campaign, the nation must be taken out of the depressive atmosphere, restore normalcy and invigorate the Turkish economy, particularly the tourism sector. We might not wish to acknowledge, but in all sectors of the Turkish economy, particularly in the services and cultural area, there is a terrible situation that must be dealt with urgently with concrete and positive actions rather than palliative support schemes.

With measures taken, several brands of vaccines are now offered to Turkish people, as well as resident foreigners, not only at hospitals but also at most primary public health centers, depending on their ability to store vaccines at required temperatures. Improvements at primary public health centers have helped a lot in this fast vaccination campaign, but much work needs to be done to achieve the sustainability of this mobilization. Doctors, nurses and other health personnel are all tired after so many months of devoted mobilization. There are tens of thousands of well-educated young doctors and health personnel waiting for an appointment, while many people who retired at very young ages might as well be called back to duty.

The ability to vaccinate 1.5 million people a day is a remarkable achievement that very few countries might compete with Turkey. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was much criticized over the past several months, but after all, he proved to be right. When Turkey managed to have a sufficient amount of vaccine, it was proved not to be an issue at all to vaccinate over 1 million people a day. However, vaccinating 60-70 percent of the people will not be enough. Tomorrow we might have the Indian variant of the COVID-19 that health experts have been warning about, saying that it is spreading far faster than other mutations and has a very high mortality rate, unfortunately.

Vaccinating over 60 percent of the population twice will be a very big achievement, but unfortunately will not be enough to say the threat is over. At least 18 percent of the Turks are reported to have been vaccinated with a vaccine, which is not so effective against the Indian mutation. Also, it is said that vaccines might provide some sort of a shield for a period of up to six months. But it is obvious that Turks will soon need a third vaccination. Thus, not only preparations and acquisition programs must be done accordingly, but also measures ought to be taken to enforce the already tired health army of the country. Probably, not only hospitals and primary public health centers but municipalities must be enrolled as well in this mobilization campaign and they should be assigned new roles and responsibilities to facilitate the vaccination campaign.

In any case, rather than rhetoric tangible programs, effective cooperation schemes between local and central public offices are a must.