The coronavirus pandemic, in all its dimensions, has created new jobs for health care workers, such as contact tracing. Nowadays, health care professionals have been tasked with a new job: persuading skeptics to get their vaccine against the deadly virus.
Looking at the fact that even 14% of health care workers opted not to get vaccinated, it's only natural that there are other anti-vaxxers and skeptics in the country. Over 23% of people eligible for jabs have refrained from being inoculated as health authorities aim to have wrapped up vaccinating the majority of the population by June.
Enter “persuasion crews.” Salih Yapan, who works at local health directorate at Muratpaşa, a district in the southern province of Antalya, is a member of one of these crews. “We never failed to convince one person to have their vaccination,” he boasts. Yapan is a health care worker whose job involves providing door-to-door vaccination to those who cannot leave home due to age or health.
In addition to visiting citizens at their homes, persuasion crews also run a call center that checks on citizens who refuse to be vaccinated to try and change their minds. The crews also visit people who did not show up for their jab appointments, bringing with them doses of vaccines in case the citizens they visit change their minds. “We ask them why they do not want to get vaccinated and try to persuade them about the benefits of the vaccine,” Yapan says.
The reasons why people oppose being vaccinated vary, but most are linked to the conspiracy theories making the rounds on social media spreading misinformation about vaccines. “People hear many different things on social media or elsewhere about vaccines and they get confused,” Yapan told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) Thursday.
“They are particularly confused about the difference between vaccines of BioNTech and Sinovac,” he said, referring to two vaccines currently available in the country, one of which is an inactive vaccine while the other uses messenger RNA technology. Their efficiencies differ too, although experts say both will provide protection.
Yapan and his team devote the majority of their time to answering questions about the safety of vaccines and often explain the storage conditions required to protect the doses. The crew is also frequently asked about the side effects of vaccines, which are rare for both types of vaccines.
Şaban Ertekin, 73, is among the skeptics who succumbed to Yapan's crew's persuasive efforts. “I was particularly afraid of side effects. People I knew also kept talking about how one vaccine was better than the other, and vice versa. I had reservations before this crew visited me. They talked me into having it and had me vaccinated at home. They also waited for some 20 minutes to make sure I had no side effects and to show me that there weren’t any. I am glad they came,” he said.
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