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Now more than ever, our senior citizen loved ones need extra protection against COVID-19. No wonder, aside from getting COVID-19 jabs, medical doctors also encouraged elderly to get flu and pneumonia vaccines. 

One disease can already be very burdensome to the elderly, and so the threat of two diseases to which the elderly are vulnerable—COVID-19 and the flu—can be very dangerous to them. It is imperative that we protect the vulnerable, and we have a vaccine we can maximize that,” says Dr. Eduardo Poblete of Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine during a webinar organized by the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination (PFV) to stress the importance of protecting the elderly against the “twindemic,” a COVID-19 and influenza coinfection.

Out of 37,000 confirmed deaths in the Philippines due to COVID-19, 56 percent are male, with 60-69 being the most affected age group followed by 70 to 79 years of age and 50 to 59 years. Meanwhile, influenza-attributable deaths in the country account for 5.09 deaths per 100,000 persons, and it is highest among individuals aged 60 years old and above.

GEARING UP — Around 100 senior citizens participate in a COVID-19 vaccination simulation exercise by the Manila city government at Legarda Elementary School in Sampaloc, Manila on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (Manila Public Information Office / MANILA BULLETIN)

But did you know that by law our senior citizens are entitled to get free flu and pneumonia vaccines? 

According to Atty. Charles de Belen, legal and legislative head of the Senior Citizen Partylist, their group has been implementing a door-to-door flu vaccination drive since January to make sure that the elderly will get inoculated against the flu at the safety of their own homes. 

“So right now, there are two ways for indigent senior citizens to get access to free vaccination. The first one is through door to door campaigns that are already existing in different localities,” he tells MB Life. “If it’s not available via house to house, what they can do is go to the local barangay health centers to get the free shot.”

He also says that soon, all other vaccinations approved by the Department of Health will be available for free for the senior citizens. 

“I just want to highlight that, under our bill, House Bill 7858, the expansion of coverage for free vaccinations will soon be available regardless of the status of the senior citizens,” he says. “It will include other vaccines that were previously not covered by the law. So that means, as long as a vaccine is DOH approved, it will be made available for free for senior citizens.” 

So get started and encourage the lolos and lolas to get their jabs. 

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