Turkey's Health Ministry takes action amid anti-vaccination trend among parents
Meltem Özgenç - ANKARA
The number of families that have refused to have their children vaccinated increased to 23,000 last year from 11,000 in 2016.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) also voiced concern about the increasing anti-vaccination movement in Turkey.
The organization said it has seen an increasing number of groups “misleading” the public about the effects of vaccines, leading them to concerns that the trend may shake their trust in getting vaccinated.
The country’s Health Ministry has set up the special website asi.saglik.gov.tr to inform the public about vaccines and to fight false facts.
On the website, the ministry said vaccination is the most effective and affordable public health service.
It warned that if vaccination is interrupted, up to 14,000 children may lose their lives each year because of preventable diseases. The ministry also said parents could have their children vaccinated against 13 types of diseases, including mumps, diphtheria, chin cough, polio, meningitis and German measles, at public health clinics free of charge.
The ministry also assured the public that vaccines do not include any pork products.
The website also provides a fact-check sheet about vaccines. It says rumors that vaccines cause Alzheimer’s or autism or vaccines contain hazardous elements. The ministry also said views such as vaccine preventable diseases have long disappeared in Turkey.
In December last year, the Health Ministry issued a statement and assured that vaccines used in Turkey were “extremely safe” and they underwent very “tight checks.”