DOH studying house-to-house vaccination for senior citizens, vulnerable groups

Sofia Tomacruz

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VULNERABLE. In this file photo, senior citizens wait to claim their P3,000 cash assistance from Cebu City Government on June 10, 2020.

Photo by Juan Carlo de Vela

But Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says the strategy, if implemented, will be 'more of an exception rather than the rule' as the government focuses on using fixed vaccination sites

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Monday, January 18, the Department of Health (DOH) is considering implementing a house-to-house COVID-19 vaccination strategy to reach senior citizens and other vulnerable Filipinos. 

Duque told lawmakers at the House of Representatives committee on health’s hearing into the Duterte government’s COVID-19 vaccine program that this was already part of the DOH’s planning, but underscored that should it be implemented, house-to-house immunization would be “more of an exception rather than the rule.” 

“Yan, titignan natin on a more focused basis yung sektor na baka mahirapan kung papupuntahin sila sa mga vaccination sites. We will bring the vaccines to them,” Duque said. 

(We’re looking at that on a more focused basis for sectors who may have a hard time coming to vaccination sites. We will bring the vaccines to them.)

Outside of house-to-house immunization,  the government plans to distribute vaccines mainly through fixed vaccination sites like barangay and rural health units, hospitals, and private clinics. 

Duque had likened it to elections where people troop to assigned polling precincts on Election Day, with individuals eligible to be vaccinated assigned to fixed vaccination sites in their communities. Apart from grouping people to specific vaccination sites, Duque added people will also be given a scheduled date and time for when they will be vaccinated to maintain social distancing measures during the pandemic 

Why it matters

Senior citizens make for the government’s second and third priority groups to receive the vaccine, following frontline health workers.

Unlike other groups, senior citizens face may have difficulty heading to vaccination sites on their own and face additional risks in venturing outside their homes since they are more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Nearly a year since the pandemic was declared, the government coronavirus task force has not allowed senior citizens over 65 years old to leave their homes unless for medical reasons. –

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.