Turkey's health minister stresses value of vaccination
Turkey's Health Minister Ahmet Demircan on Thursday highlighted the importance of vaccination for children to protect them from diseases.
Speaking at Anadolu Agency Editors' Desk, Demircan requested parents refusing vaccinations due to concerns that they have high levels of aluminium to reconsider their decision.
"The vaccines contain aluminium but within the limitation set by the World Health Organization (WHO)," he said.
"We are monitoring side effects of the vaccines along with WHO," he added.
The minister said a person who had been administered all of their vaccines carried 4.25 milligrams of aluminium on an average -- the same amount which can be found in drinking water and stomachache pills.
Demircan also warned families against refusing the polio vaccine. "An unvaccinated child poses threat not only to himself or herself but to the entire community."
He said Turkey had not reported a polio case in 19 years.
"It is exceptional," Demircan said. "Turkey is one of the leading countries to implement polio vaccination as a health policy."
Demircan said Turkey had reported only one diphtheria case since 2004.
"Only one person died because of diphtheria and he was not vaccinated," the minister said. "In 2016, 22 people died because of refusing to get tetanus shots. They all rejected it."
Demircan said the government was also closely monitoring the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Although its symptoms are relatively mild, health officials are alarmed by the disease because it is linked to devastating birth defects.