Sefer Aycan, an MHP politician in the province of Kahramanmaraş has proposed a prison sentence of a minimum six months to two years for parents or guardians who refuse to vaccinate their children, Daily Sabah reported August 16.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of children who have not been vaccinated in Turkey increased from 11,000 in 2016 to 23,000 last year. Vaccines provide protection against several serious diseases, including hepatitis B, measles, mumps and tuberculosis.
According to Aycan, more and more groups in Turkey are "misleading" the general public about the consequences of vaccines. By taking the issue to the Turkish Constitutional Court, Aycan hopes to highlight that vaccination is a communal responsibility rather than an individual choice, the Daily Sabah reported.
At least 90 to 95 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to achieve "herd immunity," which is the resistance to the spread of disease within a population if a high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, according to the WHO. Herd immunity provides protection to newborn babies who are not yet vaccinated and to those with compromised immune systems, such as the elderly and people with AIDS or cancer.
According to Professor Alpay Azap of KLİMİK, the Turkish Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, many countries, including Turkey, are dealing with the rise of anti-vaccination sentiments as more people are adopting "organic" lifestyles and attempting to limit chemical exposure, including to medications.