AS THE country commemorates the Elderly Filipino Week, a group championing the health and quality of life of older Filipino adults has called on the national and local governments to improve flu vaccine coverage for senior citizens and ensure the availability of the latest quadrivalent influenza vaccines.

In a statement, the Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine (PCGM) underscored the importance of providing senior citizens with a strong layer of protection against vaccine-preventable diseases through flu vaccination.

The group said regular and timely adult flu vaccination also helps reduce the long-term risks from other diseases, such as cardiovascular and lung diseases, as well as diabetes; enhance health literacy; and reinforce healthy behavior.

By virtue of Proclamation 470, the Elderly Filipino Week is celebrated every October 1 to 7 in recognition of the senior citizens’ contribution to the country’s development and nation building.

“We believe that vaccination is an essential public health intervention and one of the most cost-effective preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of older Filipino adults,” it said.

As part of its call, PCGM insisted that both national and local governments provide equitable access to quadrivalent influenza vaccines for all older adults in the country, whether through the public program or private clinics.

According to the United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC), a quadrivalent influenza vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses, including two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

The PCGM urged the national and local government to institutionalize the provision of all adult flu vaccination by supporting policies and programs and allocating appropriate financial and human resources. Furthermore, the group asked them to integrate regular and timely flu vaccination in health promotion and disease prevention programs for older adult Filipinos to provide a blanket of protection against other deadly diseases.

The national and local governments must also review and propose appropriate amendments to relevant laws for older Filipino adults, such as Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, to ensure regular and timely adult flu vaccination for the elderly.

Aside from the national and local governments, the PCGM also recommended to various stakeholders -- scientists, researchers and members of the academe; health sector and communities, families and caregivers -- to help promote vaccine confidence and preventive medicine among the elderly. (PR)