May 24, 2024

The national government must allocate higher budget for free vaccination of all senior citizens, a health expert said Tuesday.

Philippine College of Physicians president Rontgene Solante said in a media forum free vaccines for the elderly must not be limited to influenza or pneumonia shots.

“It is very important that policymakers allocate a higher budget. Maybe we should be looking at that, not only the indigent population. All elderly population must be given vaccines,” Solante said.

Under Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, the Department of Health is mandated to administer free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal disease for indigent senior citizen patients.

Solante said vaccines against the Covid-19 were given to the elderly for free because of the pandemic.

However, the government lacks an extensive program involving vaccines for pneumonia, flu, respiratory syncytial virus, and shingles.

“Except for 60 years old above who get free flu and pneumococcal shots,” he added.

Meanwhile, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination executive director Dr. Lulu Bravo said the national government must address the high cases of dengue and measles which are both vaccine-preventable.

“If the Philippines does not do something and does not intervene, our country will be full of measles and polio. No one will come to the Philippines if you have a lot of dengue, measles, polio, and all the influenza that we have,” she said.

According to the National Immunization Coverage 2022 data, the Philippines is one of the top five countries with the most number of zero-dose children globally in East Asia and the Pacific Region.

In August last year, the DOH launched its program to immunize 95 percent of Filipino children against vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles and rubella. – PNA