(PN File)

The regional office of the Department of Health (DOH) voiced worry over low vaccination rates among senior citizens in Palawan towns, which might result in congested hospitals and healthcare facilities across the province.

In comparison to Romblon, which has a vaccination rate of around 60%, Palawan has a vaccination rate of approximately 22%, the DOH regional office said Wednesday, October 27.

Assistant regional director Vilma Diez told Palawan News that Palawan towns should address this problem, as seniors are part of a vulnerable demographic and are at high risk of hospitalization and death.

“Kailangan nating bigyan ng pansin ito dahil sila [seniors] ang mga nakakapuno ng mga ICU natin. Tataas ang healthcare utilization natin, at kapag tataas yan ay mapapagod ang ating mga healthcare workers. Ang gusto nga natin ay bumaba ang ating healthcare utilization para tayo ay bumaba na ang quarantine classification natin at mag-open up ang ating economy,” Diez said.

“Mayroon kaming data rito na probinsya na mababa ang case fatality rate, which is Romblon. Ang fatality ay 0.6 [per cent] lang. Tinitingnan namin ang kanilang pagbabakuna sa elderly, mataas, which is about 60 per cent na sila, kumpara sa Palawan, which is about 22 per cent,” she added.

Diez also noted that, in comparison, Puerto Princesa has done well in terms of vaccination of elders, with around 49% of seniors now completely vaccinated. Additionally, vaccination coverage in Puerto Princesa City has increased to around 33% of the 201,000 target population, according to the most recent statistics from Puerto Princesa Covac.

She advised that local chief executives may devise strategies to encourage elders to be vaccinated, noting that some local government units (LGUs) provide assistance or incentives to their immunized elderly.

“Sa Romblon, bahay-bahay. Kung hindi na makalakad sina lolo at lola, pupuntahan nila [LGU] para mabakunahan sila. O kapag nakakalakad naman, susunduin ng barangay captain. Kaya malaki ang role ng mga barangay officials dito,” she said.

Diez emphasized that everyone, particularly younger age groups, should encourage seniors to be vaccinated immediately to prevent more fatalities and hospitalizations. She noted that given that immunizations will begin for children aged 12-17 with comorbidities this week, they should also push their unvaccinated seniors to receive their jabs.

“If we want our deaths and cases to decrease, ‘yon muna sanang mga lolo at lola [ang dapat bakunahan]. Marami na tayong supply, marami na tayong bakuna. Ang kulang na lang talaga ay ang mga magpapabakuna,” she added.