'Get vaccinated,' Roque tells seniors; 'spend time with your grandkids'

Published August 3, 2021, 2:55 PM

by Raymund Antonio

As the World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines sounded the alarm on the low vaccination rate of senior citizens in the country, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday, August 3, called on the elderly to get their vaccines so they can spend more time with their grandchildlren.

Grandparents are an important part of every Filipino family with many of them tasked to take care of their grandchildren while the parents work.

A senior citizen receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Angono, Rizal. (Angono Public Information Office)

“Ang proteksyon po talaga natin kung gusto pa natin makasama ang ating mga apo ay magpabakuna na tayo (Our protection if we really want to be with our grandchildren is to get vaccinated),” he said during his virtual press briefing.

“Siguro, the best incentive is, mga lolo-lola, siyensya na po iyong nagsabi kayo po talaga ang pinaka at-risk dahil dito sa COVID-19 (Maybe our best incentive is, grandmas and granddads, science tells us that you are most at-risk because of COVID-19),” Roque noted.

While he understands that there are a lot of reasons why senior citizens don’t want to get vaccinated such as giving way for the young to get their vaccines first and fearing vaccination sites because they might contract the virus there, he stressed that the vaccine is the best way to be safe from COVID-19.

READ: Fully vaccinated seniors encouraged to still limit themselves from going to public places

The Palace official also cited that some senior citizens are concerned about the safety of the vaccine.

Roque reminded them that the vaccines have authorization from both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the WHO.

“Ang WHO na rin po nagsabi na ang lahat ng bakuna ginagamit natin ay nasa emergency use list ng WHO (WHO said that all the vaccines we are using are in their emergency use list),” he said, adding that the international health agency backed the efficiency and safety of the vaccines.

“Kung ano pa ‘yung mga concerns pwede naman pong pumunta sa vaccination center na safe, mag-mask at mag-face shield lamang at dumistansya at mababawasan naman po iyong risk (Whatever the concerns are, you can go to the vaccination center safely, wear a mask and face shield and practice distancing and the risks will be reduced),” Roque stressed.

Last week, WHO Philippines called on the government to accelerate its efforts in vaccinating all senior citizens, who are included in the A2 priority category, next only to medical frontliners or A1 category.

READ: WHO PH urges LGUs to prioritize vaccination of senior citizens

To date, only 25 percent of this group have been fully vaccinated, WHO Philippines said, leaving 6.4 million of the elderly at increased risk of severe illness and death. Seven out of 10 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Philippines belong to this group.

“The risk is even more immediate with the possible surge in COVID-19 cases following the confirmation of the circulation of the more transmissible Delta variant,” WHO Philippines said.

The Delta variant of the coronavirus-19 is the more transmissible and contagious mutation of the virus. The variant is believed to be the driver of the surge in Indonesia.

“We are very concerned that most of our older, more vulnerable people are still missing out on essential, life-saving vaccines against COVID-19. Not vaccinating most of our elderly now means more of them will suffer from severe illness and death. This is unacceptable when we already have adequate vaccine stocks to protect them,” said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative to the Philippines, said in a statement.