Senator Sonny Angara prodded the health authorities and local government units across the country to step up its efforts to inoculate members of the elder population, a significant portion of which remain unvaccinated to this day.
Even though the authorities prioritized senior citizens when it rolled out its vaccination program early this year, some 3.4 million of the 8.5 million of the elderly have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccines, based on data from the World Health Organization.
“It has been seven months since we started our vaccination program. Our health authorities, together with the LGUs should actively seek out our senior citizens and make sure that they receive their jabs at the soonest possible time,” said Angara, who sponsored the COVID-19 Vaccination Act of 2021 as chairman of the Committee on Finance.
“We understand that many of our seniors have their apprehensions about being vaccinated against but the fact is that these vaccines have been proven to save lives. And considering that seniors are the most vulnerable to severe COVID-19, it is imperative that most, if not all, of them should be given protection,” he added.
The WHO has reported that around 3.4 million seniors remain unvaccinated—with Regions 3, 4A, 7, 6, 11, 5 and 1 recording the most number of unvaccinated.
According to the WHO, the slow rollout among senior citizens leaves the Philippines vulnerable to its hospitals being overwhelmed due to severe cases among the elderly, and possibly higher deaths due to a surge in cases from the fast-spreading Delta variant confirmed to be locally transmitted.
Angara said the issue is no longer the lack of supply of vaccines but finding ways to deliver these to the seniors and for those who refuse to be vaccinated, convincing them to receive their first doses.
“From what we are seeing now with the plans to provide a third dose to the health workers and vulnerable sectors and the rollout of the vaccination of minors, supply is no longer an issue. Kailangan na lang natin na gawan ng paraan para mabakunahan ang mga senior natin bilang isang urgent na isyu,” Angara said.
Since many senior citizens are not able to get out of their homes, Angara said the LGUs, particularly at the level of the barangays, should find ways to deliver the vaccines to these seniors.
“We have seen a number of LGUs that have successfully done door-to-door vaccinations of senior citizens. They can serve as models for the other LGUs to replicate so that we can get more of our seniors protected against serious ailments related to COVID-19,” Angara said.
Angara is the author of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizen’s Act of 2010, which institutionalized the Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens.
He is also the author of RA 11350 that created the National Commission of Senior Citizens, that is tasked to handle the needs and concerns of the country’s elderly.