By RHAYDZ B BARCIA
LEGAZPI CITY: The Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Bicol is stepping up its immunization drive for indigent senior citizens against influenza and pneumococcal infections here.
The health department in Bicol is targeting at least 95,000 indigent senior citizens for pneumonia vaccination and 114,987 for influenza.
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 the hospitalization and deaths worldwide and complications occur mostly among the elderly who are suffering from chronic medical conditions.
Immunization remains the best preventive measure to fight cases of pneumonia and influenza, Gloria J Balboa, DOH regional director in Bicol told Bicol Mail.
“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,” Balboa explained.
Balboa expects that after the vaccination, indigent senior citizens will be more protected against the disease.
Nancy Pastrana, DOH EPI nurse coordinator in the region told Bicol Mail that as the campaign is being undertaken by DOH-CHD Bicol along with the local government units, all indigent senior citizens are encouraged to coordinate with the Organization of Senior Citizen Association (OSCA) in their respective locality for updates and schedule of vaccination.
In 2012, the health department in Bicol has immunized a total of 113,780 indigent senior citizens, 103,365 of them against influenza and 10,415 against pneumonia. – Bicol Mail