Turkey’s Health Minister Ahmet Demircan said on Jan. 11 that the government has been closely monitoring the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
“Zika is a new common viral illness in Turkey. Our Health Ministry is doing necessary studies about this and the necessary precautions will be taken. Is there such a threat in the future? There might be some unease. Once we have taken the necessary precautions, we carry out the measures with the WHO [World Health Organization],” he said.
The deadly Zika virus could spread to the central Anatolian region of Turkey in seven years, the Turkish Health Ministry has stated in a recent report.
The Health Risks Early Warning Department of the ministry issued the report after detecting four infected people in Turkey last October, daily Milliyet reported on Jan. 9.
Meanwhile, Demircan also highlighted the importance of vaccines for children in order to protect them from disease.
Speaking at the Anadolu Agency Editors’ Desk, Demircan requested for parents who have refused vaccinations over concerns of high levels of aluminum in vaccines to reconsider their decision.
“The vaccines contain aluminum but within the limitations set by the WHO,” he said.
“We are monitoring the side effects of the vaccines along with the WHO,” he added.
The minister said a person who had been administered all of their vaccines carried 4.25 milligrams of aluminum on average—the same amount found in drinking water and stomachache pills.
Demircan also warned families against refusing the polio vaccine. “An unvaccinated child poses a threat not only to himself or herself but to the entire community,” the minister said.
He also said Turkey had not reported a polio case in 19 years.
“It is exceptional. Turkey is one of the leading countries in implementing the polio vaccine as a health policy,” Demircan said.
Turkey had reported only one diphtheria case since 2004, according to the minister.
“Only one person died because of diphtheria and he had not been vaccinated. In 2016, 22 people died who had refused to get tetanus shots. They had all rejected it,” he said.