MANILA - Accessibility to vaccine sites remains a challenge for senior citizens as their turnout for COVID-19 vaccinations remains low, the Department of Health said Saturday.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said senior citizens, rendered as high-risk to the virus, still fear going outdoors as the threat of COVID-19 remains.
"Ang nakikita nating usual reasons, hindi lang po hesitancy at parte ng access sa bakunahan dahil marami sa ating matanda na takot lumabas at sumakay o kaya bedridden," Vergeire said in a public press briefing.
(One of the reasons we see is not just hesitancy to the vaccine itself - part of this is because they are afraid of going out or that they are already bedridden.)
Vergeire said around 5 percent of the country's 8 million senior citizens have already been vaccinated. A solution to these challenges, she said, was local government units imposing house-to-house vaccinations.
Video courtesy of PTV
"Kaya ang local government units nag-iikot nagbabahay-bahay para tumaas ang pagbabakuna sa ating mga nakakatanda," Vergeire said.
(This is why local government units go house-to-house to increase vaccination rates among the elderly.)
Senior citizens are listed as second priority next to medical frontliners in the country's COVID-19 vaccination program, as they are considered "high-risk" in getting serious symptoms of the disease.
Another intervention, she said, was the directive of the pandemic task force to allow fully-vaccinated senior citizens to head outdoors in areas that are not on strict lockdown such as those under general and modified general community quarantine.
"Of course the major objective is makapag-exercise and 'yung mental health [nila mapangalangaan]. Pero 'yung ibang nakatatanda kung nakikita nila na ang ibang matatanda sa tingin natin na mahihikayat natin ang mga matanda na makapagpabakuna," she said.
(Of course the major objective is to allow them to exercise and uplift their mental health. But if the elderly see others their age I think they will be encouraged to get vaccinated.)
But with the directive, she also reiterated that there are still restrictions.
"Bawal pa rin po ang inter-zonal travel, bawal lumabas sa NCR at pagkatapos po nasusunod pa rin dapat ang minimum public health standards. Kung kayo po ay lalabas sana po sundin natin ang safety protocols," Vergeire said.
(They are still barred from inter-zonal travel. They are not allowed to head out of NCR, and they should still comply with minimum public health standards. If you are heading out, please make sure you follow safety protocols.)