MANILA - The Philippines is allowing senior citizens to walk into COVID-19 vaccination sites without appointments during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila.
Senior citizens are given this privilege because they are among the most vulnerable against COVID-19, Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje said in an online press conference.
"Puwede pong mag-walk in ang ating mga senior citizens. Priority po sila kung saan puwede," she said.
(Senior citizens are allowed to walk in. They will be prioritized in areas where walk in vaccinations are allowed.)
Government agencies will not ask for additional requirements from senior citizens who will troop to vaccination sites despite the 2-week long lockdown, she said.
"Discerning naman itong ating mga pulis na talagang magpapabakuna ang mga senior citizen kasi wala naman ibang pupuntahan dahil naka close naman tayo," she said.
(Our police are discerning enough to know that these senior citizens are really headed to vaccination sites since they can't go anywhere since most establishments are closed.)
The new policy for senior citizens comes as the Philippines confirmed that it has fully vaccinated only a third of its elderly population 5 months since the country began its COVID-19 inoculation program.
As of August 2, 2021, 32.57 percent or 2.6 million senior citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 34.87 percent or 2.89 million other elderly people have received their first dose.
The figure is an improvement from the 736,519 or 8.90 percent fully vaccinated senior citizens last month, according to data from the DOH.
"The problem for many of the many regions were limited supplies kaya hindi sila nakavaccinate ng (that's why they were unable to vaccinate) A2, A3," Cabotaje said.
There were also individuals who were worried about the side effects of vaccines, she said.
The national government is considering to get more Janssen vaccines for senior citizens as the single dose Johnson and Johnson jabs remove the elderly's need to return to vaccination sites for a second dose, she said.
"The Janssen was a donation from COVAX. We might want to request additional Janssen from COVAX, the Health official said.
"In terms of efficiencies, mas maganda yung one dose," she said.
As of August 2, the Philippines has received 3.24 million Janssen vaccines from the COVAX facility, data from the DOH showed.
In June, the City of Manila banned walk-in vaccinations to avoid crowding in inoculation sites, but eventually reinstated the policy after observing a low turnout in its vaccination centers.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte shunned walk in vaccinations in the country as several people have been queuing in inoculation hubs as early as 4 a.m. for a chance to get jabbed against COVID-19.