Shortage of chickenpox vaccine in Turkey raises public health concerns

A persisting shortage of chickenpox vaccines in Turkey has been creating a public health concern about a new epidemic, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) noted. Parents have reported not getting access to the treatment for their infants, who should have received an injection before their first birthday.

Duvar English

A shortage of chickenpox vaccines in Turkey is concerning experts about yet another epidemic in the population, as infants who should have been inoculated before the age of one still haven't received the treatment.

A resident of southeastern Gaziantep, Müge Tüfekçi, has been looking to get her 13-month-old infant inoculated with a chickenpox vaccine for five months to no avail, the daily Birgün reported on March 30.

"Babies are supposed to have received this before the 12th month, but family health centers don't have supplies. They tell us that they receive one or two doses each week and give them to kids who are extremely overdue," Tüfekçi said. 

Tüfekçi looked for the vaccine in Mersin and Niğde too, and was told that there are no supplies anywhere in the country, she noted. 

Imports of chickenpox vaccination supplies have been low for the past six to seven months, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Family Practitioners Department Chair Dr. Emrah Kırımlı noted. 

"The Health Ministry buys this vaccine from Chinese Sinovac, the same company that they bought COVID-19 vaccines from," Kırımlı said. 

The shortage of chickenpox vaccines is a problem in the context of schools and kindergartens reopening, as kids who aren't vaccinated are likely to be subjected to more risk.

Measles and tetanus shots are also low in supply sometimes, Kırımlı added.

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Murat Emir presented a parliamentary question about the 50,000-dose difference between the expected number of BioNTech vaccines and the number that the government reported receiving on March 25.