First modification: 18/02/2021 – 13:48Last modification: 18/02/2021 – 13:46
Imamli (Turkey) (AFP)
In remote villages in the Turkish mountains, Dr Sergan Saracoglu, with his briefcase full of syringes, faces a double challenge when injecting the anticovid vaccine into older people: extreme weather and recalcitrant ancestral beliefs.
After driving for more than an hour on steep snow-covered roads, Saracoglu, accompanied by another doctor and a nurse, arrives in the largely Kurdish village of Imamli, nestled in the mountains of Van province (eastern Turkey).
In your hand, a list with the names of people over 65, who can receive the vaccine. The team manages to locate their first patient: Berfo Arsakay, 101.
After injecting her with a first dose of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine at her home, the team waits for half an hour, while drinking tea in her modest home, to ensure that the lady does not experience side effects.
“He had a positive attitude,” says Dr. Saracoglu. “We have had cases where people refused to get vaccinated,” he added.
Turkey, which began vaccinating its population in mid-January, has so far registered 2.5 million COVID-19 infections and more than 27,000 deaths. But mountainous areas remote and isolated from cities appear to be more protected from the pandemic.
– “Clean Air” –
“It is a very good thing that they were able to get here, because they called me to go to the hospital, but I swore that I would not do it until we finished with this virus,” murmurs the centennial old woman.
Dr. Saracoglu and his team were less fortunate in another small village, Ozbeyli, located in the same district. They left without being able to vaccinate the only three people on their list: a man they could not locate and two women who refused the vaccine.
The young town keeper, Mahmut Seker, launches into an ecological speech to downplay the situation. “Thank God we do not have the coronavirus here. It is a clean place, with clean air,” he says. “People don’t want to get vaccinated for that. Besides, they are afraid,” he says.
The doctor agrees that these remote areas are less exposed.
“Generally, in such small villages very few cases have been registered. It is thanks to this natural social distance, in the open air,” says Saracoglu. “In addition, in the (boreal) winter, they are geographically isolated from the city, which means that the coronavirus circulates less,” he adds.
In Imamli, Sabahtin Saymaz’s parents, now elderly, are eager to return to Bahcesaray, the district capital, where they have not set foot since the start of the pandemic.
“They were very careful. They never went to town. They waited to be vaccinated,” he confides, seeing how his parents receive the first dose of the vaccine injected by Dr. Saracoglu’s team. The second injection is scheduled 28 days later.
© 2021 AFP