Over 10,000 families in Turkey reject vaccinations for children: Doctor
Meltem Özgenç – ANKARA
The number of families who refuse to have their children vaccinated due to the unfounded rumor that aluminum in vaccines can lead to Alzheimer’s has risen to over 10,000 per year, according to Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ceyhan, the head of the Hacettepe University Hospital Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit.
“Analyses conducted in our country have shown that vaccinations have saved 14,296 people from death per year. If we give up on vaccinations, it is clear there will be thousands of deaths,” Ceyhan has said, adding that the level of aluminum used as a catalyst in some vaccines is “too low to affect human health.”
“In recent days, there are some with academic titles who have been releasing statements to various media organs against vaccinations—the reason for which we do not know, but they have left us with the impression that they are trying to gain publicity. Unfortunately, statements like these cause very serious damage to healthcare in our country,” he said.
Ceyhan has said that vaccines have shown to be effective against diseases, with a 98 percent decrease in diseases and some have even disappeared thanks to vaccines, but there has been a “serious increase in the refusal for vaccinations” as a result of unfounded rumors.
“For example, the number of families who refused vaccinations [for their children] in 2011 was 183, 913 in 2013, 5,091 in 2015 and over 10,000 in 2016. As a result, we sadly see there has been an increase in some illnesses,” Ceyhan has said, referring to the increase cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in the last three years.
“Apart from this, some people are providing the public with false information, such as that vaccines include mercury. Vaccines do not include mercury since they are currently administered in our country by single-doses,” he said.
The Hacettepe University Hospital Pediatric Infectious Diseases Unit has seen children without vaccinations die of pneumococcal menengitis and left handicapped, Ceyhan has said, also adding that “a serious number of children” have died from not receiving the flu shot.
“It should not be forgotten that vaccines are the most effective and inexpensive method of protecting millions of people from death and disability, pioneered by our ancestors in the 1700s and spread throughout the whole world,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has told daily Hürriyet in a statement that the aluminum used in vaccines “has not led to serious side effects or long-term illness.”
“Aluminum has been used in various vaccines in the amount of over three billion doses. There has been no other side effect reported, other than that long-term exposure to aluminum in high amounts could cause weakness in bones. The levels of aluminum in vaccines on the other hand, is very low. None of the flu shots in our country include aluminum,” the ministry has said.