Vaccination rate low among university students, says minister

Vaccination rate low among university students, says minister

Vaccination rate low among university students, says minister

The vaccination rate among university students against COVID-19 is still low and the coronavirus is infecting more and more young people, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has warned, noting that flu cases are spiking.

After elementary, secondary and high schools resumed face-to-face education early September, millions of university students are now returning to campuses for the new academic year.

“Contrary to expectations, the rate of vaccination among our university students is low,” Koca wrote on Twitter on Oct. 16.

“The society is expecting all young people to join the fight [against the pandemic] by getting their shots,” he said.

Since the country rolled outs its inoculation program in mid-January, more than 47 million people, or over 76 percent of the population aged 18 and above, have been fully vaccinated.

Close to 55 million people, which account for 88 percent of the same age group, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 jab.

Additionally, Turkey has given the third dose of the shot to around 11 million, bringing the total number of the doses administered since the beginning of the drive to some 114 million.

Koca last week noted that the vaccine drive as a whole in the country has slowed.

Over the weekend, the health minister, in a separate tweet, also warned that the number of coronavirus cases among young people is on the rise.

The number of daily cases, which climbed to over 60,000 in April, dropped to around 5,000 in July, but they started to pick up afterwards. The daily infections have been hovering at around 30,000 since mid-September.

COVID-19, which was first reported in Turkey last March, has infected more than 7.6 million people to date, killing over 67,000 patients.

“Only 74 percent of those aged 65 and above have been fully vaccinated whereas the vaccination rate for this age group should be around 98 percent. Most of the COVID-19-related deaths are seen among the elderly. Moreover, severe cases and deaths are high among unvaccinated young people,” said Professor Serap Şimşek Yavuz, from the Health Ministry’s Science Board, which advises the government on the pandemic.

Yavuz noted that people gave up on anti-virus measures, such as social distancing and protective face masks “too early.” “That is why the number of cases is not coming down,” she said.

Meanwhile, Koca warned that there has been a significant increase in flu cases across the country.

“Flu cases were down last year thanks to COVID-19-related measures. But those cases are rising due to seasonal effects and as people ignore social distancing and face mask rules,” the minister said.