MANILA – The National Commission on Senior Citizens (NCSC) still sees a need to accelerate Covid-19 vaccine coverage among the elderly, especially those in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
NCSC Chairperson Franklin Quijano acknowledged how Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy among senior citizens has mounted, but noted that more effort should be exerted in increasing vaccination rates in the BARMM.
“Actually [there is] a lot of cooperation, except that there are certain areas; ang una nito is iyong BARMM. Iyong BARMM ay kinakailangan pa talagang kampanyahan (the first is BARMM. We still need to boost our campaign in BARMM),” Quijano in a Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday.
In July, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that the BARMM has the lowest Covid-19 vaccination coverage of the elderly in the country.
“We hope that there’s going to be a joint effort between the BARMM government, the national government and the different religious leaders,” Quijano added.
He also underscored the importance of getting jabs now that the use of face masks is now voluntary in outdoor settings.
“As long as we are able to define safe spaces, we would like to agree na puwede ng walang face mask (that we can go out without face masks) and even senior citizens who are in safe spaces may not have face mask,” he said.
He, however, urged senior citizens with comorbidities to continue using face masks.
He also commended local government units (LGUs) for intensifying house-to-house Covid-19 vaccinations to reach senior citizens and enjoined other LGUs to do the same.
“Nararapat po na sa ibang lugar ng bansa, kailangan house-to-house, kasi may mga senior citizens na hindi gaanong mobile o ayaw ng mag-ikot o mamasyal (It is appropriate to conduct house-to-house vaccinations because there are senior citizens that are not that mobile or they don’t like going out),” he said.
As of Sept. 12, more than 6.8 million Filipino senior citizens have completed their first and second Covid-19 vaccine doses. Over 2.5 million senior citizens have received their booster shots.
Meanwhile, Quijano expressed optimism that the growing senior population in the country would spell more programs that would provide resources for the elderly.
The number of Filipinos aged 60 years and above increased to 9.22 million in 2020 from 7.53 million in 2015, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The current figure is already double the 4.6 million senior citizens in the year 2000.
“Of course, we also know that an increasing number of senior citizens may also mean a lot of attention to be given to senior citizens,” he said. (PNA)