Turkey’s youth dodging vaccination calls despite rise in virus cases
Despite a recent spike in COVID-19 infections Turkey’s young people are still dodging calls from officials and experts to get the coronavirus vaccine.
“Some 53.8 percent of the people aged between 18 and 25 are fully vaccinated,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter, urging not only the country’s youth but also the elderly as well as those with chronic diseases to have their shots.
Last week, the minister warned that the number of coronavirus cases among young people is on the rise and that contrary to expectations, the rate of vaccination among university students remains low.
“Young people are giving us a hard time,” complained Mehmet Emin Bilmez, the governor of the eastern province of Van, which has one of the lowest infection rates in the country.
People under the age of 30 make up 64 percent of Van’s population, Bilmez said, adding that the vaccination rate among the city’s youth is low, even though older people are more willing to take the shot.
“When adding the young people, the vaccination rate drops in the city,” he explained.
According to data from the Health Ministry, a little over 65 percent of the population aged 18 and above in Van have been fully vaccinated, whereas the nation’s average for the same age group is more than 76 percent.
The situation is no different in Istanbul, the country’s most populous city.
Ali Yerlikaya, the megacity’s governor, recently revealed that only 62 percent of the people aged between 20 and 24 have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, whereas the corresponding figure for people aged between 40 and 44 is 73 percent and those aged between 45 and 49 is as high as 78 percent.
Young people, particularly those aged below 35 have “vaccine hesitancy,” according to Muhammet Ali Oruç, the local health director of the northern province of Samsun, which is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of coronavirus cases.
Experts also observe that young people widely ignore the basic anti-virus rules, such as social distancing and wearing protective face masks, warning about increased risks particularly at a time when universities have resumed in-person education.
“Young people generally develop mild symptoms and avoid PCR tests, thus, they easily transmit the virus to others, elderly members of their families,” explained Professor Mustafa Naci İlhan from the Health Ministry’s Science Board.
Meanwhile, anti-vaxxers held a rally they dubbed the “Great Awakening” in the western province of İzmir on Oct. 18, drawing a small crowd of demonstrators.
They also protested against the use of face masks and PCR tests.
This was the third such rally in Turkey following ones held in Ankara and Istanbul earlier this year.