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Turkey is moving towards a vaccination mandate for teachers, students and their families as the vaccination rate slows and infections increase.
Fahrettin Koca, the country’s health minister, said “face-to-face education is a must” and that the government will implement measures to ensure that teachers, eligible students and the families they live with receive their vaccines. Those who are not vaccinated, especially parents, may need to show negative Covid-19 test results, he said.
“So far, our immunization program has been about encouragement and preference. However, it is now a social duty that cannot be left to the choice of each citizen, ”Koca said in a televised speech after meeting his coronavirus task force.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan later said he did not believe that a vaccination mandate would violate human rights and that a decision on opening schools would be taken at a meeting from the cabinet next week.
The country’s education minister resigned last week amid criticism from teachers that schools were not ready to safely reopen as scheduled on September 6. Most of Turkey’s 18.2 million primary and secondary school students have been learning remotely since March 2020, with only in-person instructions.
Vaccines are available to anyone aged 18 or over in Turkey. About 37% of the population of 84 million people received two doses, according to data from the Ministry of Health.
Turkey recorded 27,356 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, up from around 4,000 in early July, when restrictions on coronaviruses were relaxed.
Koca also said the country plans to publish its findings on the effectiveness of a third dose of the vaccine in a scientific journal. The highest rate of protection had been among people who received three doses of the “inactive vaccine,” he said, and the next level of protection was those who received two doses of the inactive vaccine and a third dose of the vaccine. ‘an mRNA vaccine. .
Healthcare workers and people 50 and over have been offered a third dose since the end of June. Turkey administered both the Chinese-made CoronaVac with an inactivated pathogen and Pfizer / BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine, a new technology that asks cells to produce a protein that triggers an immune response.