By Rhaydz B. Barcia
LEGAZPI CITY, 2June2013 – The Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Bicol has stepped its immunization drive for indigent senior citizens in the region to boost their resistance against influenza and pneumococcal infections here.
The DOH-CHD is targeting at least 95,000 indigent senior citizens to be vaccinated for pneumonia vaccination and 114,987 for influenza, Gloria J. Balboa, DOH regional director in Bicol, said.
Balboa said pneumonia is the second leading cause of mortality in 2011 while influenza is the third leading cause of morbidity in the Bicol region.
Both diseases are responsible for hospitalizations and deaths worldwide, and complications occur among elderly, especially those having underlying chronic medical conditions, she further said.
Immunization remains the best preventive measure to fight cases of pneumonia and influenza, Balboa added.
“Indigent senior citizens are given pneumococcal immunization only once while influenza vaccine is being provided yearly. This is because pneumococcal vaccine provides lifetime immunity for senior citizens. On the other hand, treatment for influenza depends on the strain of the flu virus prevailing for a given year,” she clarified.
Balboa expects that after the vaccination, indigent senior citizens will be more protected against the disease, reducing the risk of contracting it.
Nancy Pastrana, DOH nurse coordinator in the region, said the activity being undertaken by the DOH-CHD Bicol and all local government units are free and for all indigent elderly persons.
A vaccination in private hospitals and clinic would cost them P3,500 per person.
Pastrana encouraged the senior citizens to coordinate with the Organization of Senior Citizen Association in their respective localities for updates and schedules of vaccination.
In 2012, the health department in Bicol immunized a total of 113,780 indigent senior citizens — 103,365 of them against influenza and 10,415 against pneumonia. (PNA)