MANILA — A representative of the World Health Organization on Friday pressed local governments to "do everything in their power" to vaccinate some 2.5 million elderly people.
The WHO congratulates the Philippines for vaccinating around 60 million people so far, said the body's acting representative Dr. Rajendra Prasad Yadav. However, he noted 2.5 million senior citizens have not received even a single vaccine dose.
"Vaccinating older people is one of the most impactful ways to save lives during this pandemic. We know that senior citizens are at high risk for developing severe disease, getting hospitalized and dying from COVID-19," he said in a public briefing.
"With fewer restrictions and high mobility happening now, we could be putting our unvaccinated senior citizens at risk of hospitalization and death. We appeal to the governors and mayors to do everything in their power to vaccinate our priority groups as soon as possible," Yadav continued.
He said this would allow the Philippines to start "moving into the direction of living with COVID in an endemic form."
An endemic is a disease outbreak that is consistently present but limited to a certain place or region.
The Philippines this week launched the third run of a national vaccination push that aims to inoculate 5 million people. The program was later extended until Feb. 18.
"We will take this opportunity to increase the vaccination of our senior citizens," said Health Undersecretary Myna Cabotaje, who chairs the National Vaccination Operations Center.
She acknowledged only 70 percent of seniors have received their first COVID-19 shot, while 60 percent have completed their vaccination.
"Isa sila sa ating mga target na sana ay mas mapadali iyong kanilang access sa pagbabakuna during this time," she said in the same briefing.
(They are one of our targets, we hope to make their access to the vaccination easier.)