Senior citizens in Gensan reluctant to get COVID-19 vaccine, exec says

An elderly woman records on a tablet her COVID-19 inoculation on Monday, 27 Sept. 2021, in Lagao, General Santos City. Many elderly residents are reluctant to get inoculated because of the wrong information they have been getting about the vaccines. MindaNews photo by ROMMEL G. REBOLLIDO

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 September) – The head of the Office of the Senior Citizens Affairs (OSCA) here noted a slow turnout among elderly residents in the ongoing drive to inoculate the highly vulnerable sector against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

OSCA Gensan head Celso Mendoza said only about 30 percent or 10,500 of the current 35,000 senior citizens already listed for vaccination have received the full dose of the anti-COVID-19 vaccine as of September 24.

A report by the City Health Office (CHO) showed that 14,021 senior citizens were given the first dose as of that day.

Officials in this city have said they hope to inoculate 70 percent of the population to achieve herd immunity in Gensan either in October or November. CHO statistics showed that as of Sept. 24, only 72,091 have been given full doses out of the about 800,000 population.

Mendoza believed that the limited number of vaccines being allocated by the Department of Health is the main reason why there is low turnout among the elderly getting vaccinated.

He also noted that some elderly residents are reluctant to get inoculated because of the wrong information they have been getting about the vaccines.

Among this information, he said, are misconceptions about the negative effects of vaccines, sowing fear among many elderly.

Mendoza said they already mobilized their chapter leaders in various areas of the city, “especially in the far-flung villages,” to properly inform the senior citizens there and their families about the vaccines.

In the adjoining town of Malungon in Sarangani, several church ministers were reported to have been discouraging their members from getting inoculated “as this goes contrary to the teachings of the bible.”

Farmer-businessman Edmundo Cejar of Barangay Nagpan, Malungon town, said several pastors are actively campaigning against the COVID-19 vaccine, convincing their flock to put their faith in prayers, “even saying, it is Jesus and your prayers that will protect you and not the vaccines.”

Cejar said the pastors also “scare the wits out of their churchgoers,” who are mostly members of the indigenous communities, that the vaccines will allow “a chip to be injected to their body and serve as an identification code for 666, the number of the beast in biblical terms.”

The farmer-businessman said he is worried that unvaccinated residents may eventually cause harm in their community and urged the local government in their town to do something about it, “so much so that vaccination in their place is also sluggish.”

Mendoza said the elderly must be made to understand that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is more dangerous than what they are being misinformed about.

On Sept 26, this city listed an accumulated 13,150 COVID-19 cases, the second highest in the region as reported by the DOH. (Rommel G. Rebollido / MindaNews)