‘Vaccination persuasion’ programme in southeast Turkey to be rolled out nationwide - Guardian

Turkey is preparing to roll out a nationwide COVID-19 “vaccination persuasion” initiative geared towards the elderly population reluctant to get the jab, after the programme proved successful in the country’s southeast, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

The vaccination teams, comprised of doctors and healthcare workers, who are sometimes joined by muhtars - community leaders - have been calling and visiting patients in the mainly Kurdish-majority city of Adıyaman, in a bid to persuade them to take the coronavirus vaccine, it said, in an initiative that has been effective.

Turkey began its vaccination drive in January, starting with health care workers, followed by the most elderly. The age limit for the jab was gradually decreased to 65 and above and has now reached 55 and above demographic, who form the largest group of the country’s overall population.

The country has struggled to secure enough supplies to cover the 82 million population, predominantly relying on the Chinese made CoronaVac vaccine, whose efficacy has been questioned.

A total of 23.6 percent of those in the over 65 age group have decided not to get inoculated, as well as 14 percent of healthcare workers, according to Turkey’s top medical association.

But the initiative has given hope, boosting the vaccinetake-up rate among the 250,000 strong population scattered across Adıyaman’s central district by nearly 30 percent, Dr. Hülya Doğan Tiryaki told the Guardian.

“I think sometimes people say that to cover up their fear of the unknown,” Dr.İbrahim Kaygusuz said. “My own grandmother, who is 76, told me she was afraid of becoming barren if she got the vaccination … I told her that’s not the case, and besides, she doesn’t need another baby!”

The Guardian shared the story of Hatice Yalçın, 66, who rushed over to get her shot when the healthcare team came to visit her neighbour.

“I was sick when they called me to come for the vaccination the first time,” she said. “You will all go to heaven for this good work.”