Citizens of Turkey are refusing vaccines at record numbers and this isn’t going over well with many of the country’s medical professionals. With a record 10,000 vaccine refusers per year (a number that’s growing), Prof. Dr. Mehmet Ceyhan is sounding alarm bells, calling those who speak out against vaccines publicity seekers. The health ministry, according to Hurriyet daily news, claims that aluminum in vaccines “has not led to serious side effects or long-term illness.”
“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.
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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 anti-vaccine movement is, of course, much more robust a movement than that of something we could label “publicity seeking.” That’s just divisive rhetoric that likely aims to manipulate facts and delegitimize the foundation of the movement. What’s next for Turkey could be a critical moment depending on whether or not the government begins writing up mandatory vaccine bills similar to that of Australia.