Briones: Strings attached

·2 min read

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day.

During our afternoon walk at the Cebu Business Park, along with other members of the A2Z Runners Club to which we belong who no longer run because we’re waiting for the Cebu City Sports Center to reopen after more than a year of being used as police quarters, we discussed the percentage of senior citizens in Cebu City who have registered to be injected with the vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019.

It turns out that only 11 percent of the total population of the elderly have agreed to be vaccinated.

That’s a minuscule amount, considering they are highly at risk of infection since many of them have pre-existing medical conditions, among other factors.

The government is well aware of this, which is why it has placed them in Priority A2, which is next to the frontline workers in health facilities for vaccination.

I thought they would have jumped at the chance of getting some sort of protection from a disease that targets their sector. I mean, it would only make sense. But no. They would rather take the risk.

According to Jeffrey Ibones, City Health Department officer-in-charge, the majority of the senior citizens have adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude.

I guess they want to make sure AstraZeneca, which is the only available vaccine deemed fit for the elderly, is safe. That it won’t kill them instead.

Granted, their fears are borne out of ignorance or lack of knowledge about the whole process. So the City should explain to them the importance of vaccination, which is why it has deployed personnel of other departments in City Hall to assist in the house-to-house information drive.

At this point, the City is doing everything it can to help them, but nothing seems to work. Perhaps it should change tack.

As we all know, qualified senior citizens in Cebu City receive financial assistance from the City Government. I think it’s P12,000 annually, or P1,000 a month.

By the way, to those who don’t know, this dole-out is a privilege. It’s not a God-given right. Nowhere does it say in the Philippine Constitution that cities or towns must give their elderly cash aid. If it does, please point it out to me.

I must have missed it while I was busy trying to understand why the City continues to shut out residents from a public sports facility that was built for their use and allow a handful of police personnel to occupy it instead.

So what did my friend suggest? Simple. No vaccination. No financial assistance. The City giveth and the City taketh away.

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