By Chito Chavez
The Quezon City Council has passed the initial allocation of P12 million to subsidize the free pneumococcal immunization of registered senior citizens in the city.
With the passage of Ordinance SP-2699, S-2018, Vice-Mayor Joy Belmonte said the Quezon City Health Department (QCHD) will be able to have a steady supply of 23-valent polysacaccharide vaccines for elderly residents who have not been vaccinated.
“We now have a definite budget allocation of P12 million for our free pneumococcal immunization, and this could still increase in the succeeding years depending on the number of senior citizens who would need vaccination,” Belmonte said citing the ordinance filed by 6th district councilor Roger Juan.
The pneumococcal vaccine is mainly for immunization against bacteria that cause severe pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, bloodstream infection (meningitis).
Belmonte noted that senior citizens are most vulnerable to pneumococcal infections that can lead to serious conditions, such as inflammation of the lungs or brain.
Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), Belmonte pointed out that pneumonia remains one of the leading causes of death among Filipinos and the leading vaccine-preventable death in the country.
In 2013, it ranked as the second leading cause of morbidity, along with acute lower respiratory tract infections, she added.
“In fact, more than five people die for every one thousand population in 2013. This is equivalent to 531,280 registered deaths from all causes and all ages,” Belmonte further said.
The city government started implementing the program in 2015 through Ordinance SP-2381, S-2015; the funds for the procurement of 23-valent polysacaccharide vaccines were taken from the city’s general fund which allocated 1 percent for programs, projects, and activities of senior citizens.
Under Juan’s ordinance, each of the six districts in Quezon City will equally receive P2 million from the initial P12 million allocation for the purchase of the vaccines.
All senior citizen-residents registered with the Office of the Senior Citizen’s Affairs (OSCA), including those who will turn 60 this year, are automatically entitled to the free anti-pneumonia shots.
There are about 375,000 registered senior citizens in Quezon City, accounting for about 10 percent of the total city population of 3.1 million people.