Turkish vaccine to allay health risk fears

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published

As the number of anti-vaccine families that refuse to have their children vaccinated grows, the government seeks to alleviate concerns over vaccines. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told Anadolu Agency (AA) that he believed locally-made vaccines that they plan to develop would "alleviate public concerns." No details were given about the vaccines, but Koca said that it is included in the newly selected government's first 100-day action plan.

Vaccination has long been a controversial issue in Turkey, as several parents over the past few years have filed lawsuits against the Health Ministry, which oversees the vaccination of children. In 2015, in a landmark verdict, the Constitutional Court ruled that mandatory vaccinations carried out by the Health Ministry against the consent of parents contradicted the constitutional rights of parents. The top court's ruling said that parents cannot be forced to have their children vaccinated, even if they are ordered to by the courts, and an amendment is needed in the law concerning mandatory vaccination.

Parents cite "scientific" studies indicating the side effects of vaccines to back their legal claims, though a majority of the medical community point out that "studies" concerning the damage caused by vaccinations have been debunked.

Koca said vaccines are the most efficient way for protection from diseases and assured families that vaccines are safe. His ministry set up a website devoted to vaccinations after thousands of families sought to exclude their children from regular vaccination, and the website offers information about the benefits of vaccines, especially in decreasing preventable diseases that used to claim thousands of lives in the past. Vaccination is also credited with eradicating polio in Turkey. No polio case has been recorded in the country for the last 19 years.

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