Villanueva: Bring vaccine jabs closer to seniors; consider house-to-house vaccination, ‘drive-thru’ centers
The government should consider piloting two new modes of vaccinating senior citizens, at home and drive-thru, which Senator Joel Villanueva said are the safest and the most convenient for the group most at-risk to COVID-19.
Villanueva said his twin proposals, which come on the heels of the upcoming World Immunization Week starting April 24, recognize the reality that “for social and medical reasons” many Filipinos 60 years old and above are unable to leave their homes.
“Some are sick, or are physically incapacitated. For these people, a drive-thru system where they can remain in the comfort of their vehicles would be a good idea,” Villanueva said.
But the best option, he said, “is home delivery.”
“If they cannot go to the vaccines, let the vaccines come to them,” Villanueva said.
He added that many seniors have no one to accompany them to vaccination centers.
“Marami dyan home alone talaga. Kung ang kasama naman sa bahay ay ‘no-work, no-pay’ na manggagawa, wala po silang makakasama sa vaccination site,” he said.
Compounding matters is that most seniors are aliens to the digital world, Villanueva said. “To some, internet is like Mars. Wala na nga pong Facebook, online booking pa kaya?”
“If they cannot go to the vaccines, let the vaccines come to them”
Villanueva said the high rate of vehicle ownership in the country no longer makes cars a luxury. “Kapag drive-thru, pwede tricycle o kaya pedicab. Mas mabuti naman po iyon kumpara sa ilang oras kang nakasakay sa monobloc.”
Per official count, 1 in 11 Filipinos are 60 and older, with their 2021 estimates pegged at 9.9 million.
Of this, 9.1 percent or about 830,000 were considered poor in a 2018 Philippine Statistical Authority estimate.
“Hindi lang po hirap ang ating mga seniors sa pagkilos. Hirap din po sila sa salapi at sa kalinga,” Villanueva said.
To help the poorest of them, the government grants a P6,000 annual aid, with 3.789 million senior citizens listed this year. The money is quarterly disbursed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Villanueva said if more seniors remain vulnerable to COVID-19, their high-risk of contracting the virus and ending up hospitalized exerts more pressure on “our already overstretched public health system.”
The World Health Organization has warned that COVID-19 is often more severe in people 60 years and older due to health conditions like lung or heart diseases, diabetes or conditions that affect their immune system.