One way for a senior citizen to avoid pneumococcal disease is getting the neccessary vaccination. This is the prime drive of the Department of Health (DOH) by encouraging those with age between 60 and 65 to visit the nearest government health facilities for free pneumococcal vaccine.
The call was made by DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin after they launched the Expanded Pneumococcal Immunization Program for Senior Citizens last Wednesday in Davao City.
The vaccine will comprise of two doses. The first dose is scheduled to be given when a senior citizen reaches the age 60 years. The second dose will be administered after a five-year interval or after the recipient senior citizen turns 65. Senior citizens turning 65 years old this year will receive one dose of the pneumococcal vaccine.
The schedule to be followed in administering the vaccine is based on the birthday as a programmatic and systematical scheme where the recipient will remember that they avail of it upon turning “60” and thereafter receive the next dose when they turn 65 or after five years.
Pneumococcal disease is a leading cause of serious illness throughout the world. It is caused by a common type of bacteria, the pneumococcus, which can attack different parts of the body.
Illnesses caused by pneumococcus include pneumonia, meningitis, middle ear and sinus infections, and a condition called sepsis, which is an infection of the bloodstream.
Age-related impairment of the immune system compounded with decrease of physical activity and poor nutrition increase the risk of severe pneumococcal infection.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that more than 1.6 million people die due to pneumococcal infections every year.
According to latest data from the Field Health Services Information System (FHSIS) of the DOH, pneumonia, along with acute lower respiratory tract infections, ranked as the second leading cause of morbidity among Filipinos in 2013.
Statistics from the DOH also consistently point to pneumonia as one of the leading causes of mortality among Filipinos along with heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.