DOH encourages LGUs to conduct pneumonia vaccinations for senior citizensTuesday, April 03, 2012 04:52 AM Views : 770Danny O. Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY, April 2 (PNA) Pneumonia remains among the 10 killers in the Philippines and the regional office for Bicol of the Department of Health (DOH) here is encouraging local health authorities to conduct vaccinations among senior citizens to protect them from this disease.
Pneumonia is a serious lung disease which is characterized by inflammation of lungs. It may be caused by bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites, among others but most incidences are bacterial in nature.
DOH regional director Nestor Santiago on Monday said it is estimated that there are half a million cases of pneumonia in the country each year and about 50,000 of them succumb to the disease. Half of the victims of pneumonia belong to the age group of 65 and above and at least 50 percent of these people could survive if they are vaccinated against the disease.
He said the DOH regional office is assisting local government units (LGUs) in their vaccination programs by providing the vaccines like the case in Masbate City where the city government is initiating a campaign to protect its elderly from the killer disease.
The Masbate City government, Santiago said was earlier issued by his office pneumonia vaccines which are now being used in strengthening the immunity of their senior citizens who mostly are having compromised immune system making them susceptible to catch all sorts of infections.
These people are also at a risk of developing pneumococcal disease. A pneumonia vaccine provides protection to these people against most variants of pneumonia infection. Since this vaccine does not consist a live culture, it can be safely administered even for people with compromised immune systems, he said.
Besides, pneumonia vaccine can be taken by anyone who is under 65 years of age. The vaccine produces best results when administered at young age. People above 65 years of age can also take the vaccine if there has been no immunization with pneumonia vaccine, Santiago said.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) is reminding local health authorities that prevention of pneumonia through immunization is the single most important preventive measure to reduce the incidence and prevent mortality and morbidity in elderly citizens, he said.
Recognizing this fact, the Masbate City government, Santiago said was inspired to give free pneumonia shots to its elderly particularly those that belong to the indigent sector and whose only pension comes from what is known as National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction of the national government.
The vaccination program is also in compliance with the mandate of by Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 wherein poor elderly Filipinos are now entitled to receive from the government free vaccination against the influenza virus and pneumococcal diseases, he said adding that other LGUs in the region could follow suit and the DOH is ready to assist them.
The regional health chief said local health authorities should not think that in the light of modern medical treatment and wide availability of antibiotics, pneumonia would no longer kill.
For adults, this occurs mainly as a complication of other chronic diseases like lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), tuberculosis (TB) and other debilitating illnesses that leave them bedridden most of the time.
Although, pneumonia vaccines do not provide you protection against the entire spectrum of pneumonia, it certainly protects you from pneumococcal disease, which is the most serious form of pneumonia.
People above 65 years of age should only take single shot of pneumonia vaccine. This should provide them life-long protection against the disease, Santiago said. (PNA)