Puerto Princesa Incident Management Team (IMT) chief Dr. Dean Palanca said that there are no more excuses, unless absolutely necessary, for seniors not to get vaccinated, especially after their records repeatedly showed that most COVID-19 deaths are elderly patients.
Data released by the IMT on Monday showed that out of 100 deaths in October, 94 were unvaccinated elderly patients. October is also now the month with the highest number of deaths since the onset of the pandemic.
He added that the city government has done its part to make vaccinations more accessible to those in vulnerable groups, such as holding vaccinations outside the City Coliseum.
“Halos lahat ng paraan ginagawa na rin ng city government para ma-address ang vaccination. Dinadala na ngang mas malapit sa kanila ang pagbabakuna, tulad this week, gaganapin sa [Barangay] Sta. Lourdes, isa naman sa [Barangay] Irawan,” Palanca said in a phone interview on Monday.
Palanca added that vaccine brand preference is also not a viable excuse, as the city government has sufficient supplies of sought-after brands such as Pfizer and Moderna.
“Kung may preferred brand naman kasi, maibibigay naman natin ‘yon. Mayroon na tayong Pfizer at Moderna rito,” he added.
Both local health officials, as well as the international medical community, have repeatedly stated that vaccination gives patients increased protection against severe COVID-19 symptoms and death. Even with the highly infectious and fatal Delta variant, which was confirmed to be present in Puerto Princesa City and in the municipalities, vaccination is still seen as the most effective way to protect oneself against severe COVID-19 symptoms.
Palanca added that their office has considered suggesting even harsher consequences for those who refuse to be vaccinated, but had to double down because it is also unlawful to force people to be vaccinated.
“Naisip na rin namin kung puwede i-suggest na huwag na magbigay muna ang incentives hangga’t hindi pa nababakunahan. Katulad ng 4Ps, marami kasing recipients doon ay mga seniors din. Pero hindi naman puwede ‘yon, babalikan tayo ng legal action kung ganoon, at hindi naman kasi tama iyon,” he added.