THE advice of the Health department for us to get flu and pneumonia vaccines as protection against the new coronavirus stopped short of saying where and how to get those shots.
It’s good advice to protect yourself against the complications that can come out of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) but that recommendation should be followed by important details. Will the government provide free vaccines? Where to get them? How much?
The report said the Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging the public to get influenza or flu and pneumonia vaccines to help build the immune system against the Sars-CoV-2 that causes Covid-19.
Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said persons immunized against flu have a better immune response when exposed to the Covid-19 virus. Pneumonia or pneumococcal vaccine, on the other hand, could minimize the damage to the lungs.
When I got Covid pneumonia three months ago I was asked if I had been vaccinated against pneumonia. I said no. Flu vaccine? Not this year. If I had those two vaccines then my Covid pneumonia could have been mild instead of moderate and my blood infection could have been resolved sooner. I eventually had those two shots after I recovered from Covid.
In 2019, only 47,707 individuals got the flu vaccine and 23,083 got the pneumococcal vaccine in Central Visayas. That’s a minuscule number out of the region’s population of 7.4 million.
I was among those unvaccinated in 2019. I had no reason not to have myself inoculated with the vaccines. I have a job, there’s a doctor in the family and the office offered easy access to the vaccine with payment on salary deduction. Still, I didn’t and, at the office, as I was about to get the pneumonia vaccine the doctor asked about existing health conditions and, after hearing my answer, said I should get clearance from my doctor. It ended with my brushing it aside as not urgent, then forgetting about it.
It is good advice to have those two shots except Loreche didn’t say where the public can get inoculated with the vaccines and if the DOH would give them free or at discounted prices.
A flu vaccine costs from P500 to P700 while the pneumonia vaccine costs P3,000 to P4,500. Those amounts are beyond the reach of many, especially these days when millions of workers lost their jobs or were forced to retire early. Others have fewer workdays and there are those with cuts in their salary and/or benefits.
There is something to look forward to when it comes to accessing those vaccines. The proposed budget of the Cebu City Government for next year includes an item for P150 million for flu and pneumonia vaccines. City Hall should tell the public how it intends to use the money.
That fund divided by P5,000, the estimated costs for the flu and pneumonia vaccines, will benefit roughly 30,000 individuals. That’s for Cebu City alone. Other local government units and the Department of Health can have their own budgets. There must be ways for more people to get those vaccines.