As anti-vaccination sentiment gains popularity in Turkey and the world, health care officials look to assuage the public against unfounded concerns about the so-called "dangers" of vaccinations. A landmark court case four years ago where parents of a child won a case against mandatory vaccination paved the way for heightened opposition to the vaccines and an increasing number of websites spreading often false data about the "dangers" of vaccines further drove the number of anti-vaccine families upwards.
The Health Ministry repeatedly calls on parents to allow the vaccination of their children, while authorities seek to assure people on the safety of vaccinations. Dr. Tarkan Yamanoğlu from the Vaccine Logistics Department of Public Health Directorate outlined the details of the Vaccination Monitoring System (ATS) that enables tracking the vaccination of every citizen and how it helps them to preemptively stop a likely shortage of vaccines. Yamanoğlu also spoke about the safety of every type of vaccine imported and manufactured in Turkey.
"We have every measure in place to track vaccines, whether they are safe to use, whether they will be compatible with the person who will be vaccinated. For instance, vehicles transporting vaccines are monitored thoroughly and kept up-to-date for their contents, whether the vaccines are damaged or spoiled during transportation. The ATS allows us to supply backup power if storage facilities for vaccines suffer power outages. There is no room for error in matching a vaccine with the right person. Any adverse effect, any break in the cold chain used to transport vaccines are thoroughly monitored," he says.
Yamanoğlu says that Turkey was the only country in the world running a second analysis on vaccines before they are put into use. "We monitor the imports and return the vaccines of low quality or problems before their entry into Turkey. Any vaccines that fail to pass examination are not administered. Turkey has the strictest protocols when it comes to the acquisition of vaccines. Even the slightest doubt about imported vaccines is sufficient to stop the imports," he said.