The country’s senior citizens may be willing to receive coronavirus vaccines as long as these are proven safe and effective, according to government official representing the elderly sector.
National Commission of Senior Citizens (NCSC) chair Atty. Franklin Quijano said the seniors should be given a chance to choose the vaccines that will be administered to them, adding these drugs must have no harmful side effect on their health.
The senior citizens are included in the government list of priority beneficiaries in the free inoculation drive starting February. The country currently has an estimated 10.4 million senior citizens, according to Quijano.
“We will have to check that on the ground but I guess a lot of senior citizens want to survive all the more, kaya sa tingin (so I think) they are willing as long as wala naman kontra indication, wala naman negative effect ‘yung vaccine (the vaccine has no negative effect),” he said during an interview over DZBB Sunday when asked about the number of seniors willing to get vaccinated.
Quijano, a survivor of the new coronavirus disease, said they are looking for a vaccine that will not adversely affect the health of the senior citizens. The elderly is considered among those vulnerable to the deadly illness.
“Siyempre (Of course) the purpose of the vaccine is to protect kaya tingin ko kailangan bigyan ng pagkakataon ang senior citizen na mamili kung anong vaccine ang ibibigay sa kanya (so I think the senior citizens should be a given a chance to choose what kind of vaccine will be given to them),” he said.
“There are many di ba. May galing sa US, may galing sa Europe, may galing sa China, Russia (There are many vaccines, right? There are those coming from the United States, Europe, China and Russia),” he said.
He said the commission has already written to the Department of Health (DoH) to prioritize the indigent senior citizens and the rest of the elderly in the immunization drive. He noted that many senior citizens have become indigent after the pandemic affected the ability of families to sustain themselves.
“Although we have Secretary Galvez as the czar, DoH will be the one to roll out it through the local government units and the LGUs will even have the right to acquire their vaccines. We have made our letter, recommendation, we sent our communication DoH na sana bigyan pansin o ang priority should be senior citizens),” he said.
Quijano also expressed hope that the vaccines will reach the senior citizens living in far-flung areas. So far, he cited that some local government units are “effective” and already secured supplies for their constituents.
“But may mga local governments na nagsasabi na ‘hindi namin kaya ‘yan, puwede ba i-share sa amin galing sa DoH.’ So this is going to be a logistical nightmare pagka hindi na-prepare maigi (But there are local government units saying they can’t do it alone, wanted a share from the DoH supply. So this is going to be a logistical nightmare if it is not prepared well),” he said.
“Tingin ko prepared naman ang national government. I have seen they are workin on it. But again just a word, a wish na sana at saka dapat aaabot talaga sa pinaka-corner ng ating bansa (I think the national government is prepared. I have seen they are working on it. But again, just a word, a wish the vaccines will reach the far corners of the country), he added.
The government had earlier announced plans to prioritize the inoculation of 24.6 million Filipinos, including frontline health workers, once the vaccine supply arrives in the country.
First on the government’s list of eligible groups will be the 1.76 million health workers from both public and private health facilities.
Next on the list will be 3.78 million indigent senior citizens, 5.67 million remaining senior citizens, 12.91 million remaining indigent population, and 525,523 uniformed personnel.
The country’s vaccine supplies secured by the government will come from Novovax, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, and Moderna. The first batch of the shipment is expected to be delivered in late February.