MANILA - The Philippines has fully protected less than a tenth of senior citizens against COVID-19, a health official said Wednesday, noting that Filipino elderly are hesitant to get jabbed due to fake news about vaccines.
Of the 8.27 million senior citizens that need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, only 736,519 or 8.90 percent have been fully inoculated against the disease while 2.42 million others or 29.32 percent have received their first dose, according to data from the Department of Health (DOH).
"Kulang pa ho sa paliwanag at balitaktakan. Marami pong kumakalat na mali-maling balita, hindi magandang balita [tungkol sa bakuna]," said Dr. Nina Castillo-Carandang, member of the DOH National Immunization Technical Advisory Group.
(We lack discussions and explanations. There are still a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the vaccines.)
"Mas kumakalat ang chismis kaysa sa tama at siyentipikong tugon at impormasyon," she said.
(Gossip spreads faster than factual and scientific information about the vaccines.)
About 10 percent of 1,014 senior citizens surveyed from May 16 to 30 said they were "not sure" if they want to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Carandang said.
Of these hesitant elderly, 19 percent said they were concerned "about possible side effects" of the vaccines, while 16 percent were uncertain about being immunized against COVID-19 due to "negative news about the vaccine."
The DOH survey showed that 2 percent of respondents did not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Of those who were not willing to be immunized, 17 percent said they "lack trust in clinical trials," 15 percent said "possible side effects were not properly discussed," while 13 percent cited "negative news about the vaccine."
As of July 1, 2021, the National Capital Region had the most number of fully vaccinated senior citizens at 306,506 or 24.61 percent of the elderly population in the region.
Davao region - which has the most number of COVID-19 cases - had the least number of fully vaccinated senior citizens at 13,537 or 2.95 percent of the elderly population in the region.
"Malayo pa ho tayo. Ang gusto ho natin ay makatungtong tayo ng 100 percent sa first dose," Carandang said.
(We have a long way to go. What we want is to hit the 100 percent mark for the first dose.)
"We want a vaccine-literate and a vaccine-protected public," she said.
As of July 5, the Philippines has fully vaccinated about 3 percent of its population, still way below the 70 percent mark needed to attain herd immunity against COVID-19.
So far, 2.9 million Filipinos have received their second dose of COVID-19 shots, while 9 million others have been jabbed with the first dose.