Grant weekend passes to fully vaccinated seniors
Fully vaccinated senior citizens, regardless of age, should be allowed to enter indoor premises, during weekends or from Friday to Sunday, if the Department of Health (DOH) cannot give them full freedom to leave their places of residence at any day, and let them enjoy saying: “Thank God It’s Friday.”
A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the second dose of vaccine against COVID-19. Hence, the weekend pass should be limited to this type of vaccinated senior citizens.
For almost a month now, various sectors have been asking the DOH to allow fully vaccinated senior citizens, regardless of age, to be allowed to enter indoor premises and enjoy other privileges, but the DOH has denied such requests for health reasons. The DOH said there is no assurance that those fully vaccinated will no longer get sick and transmit COVID-19 to other people.
We find such argument childish, if not very unreasonable, as it instills fear among unvaccinated persons who would entertain the idea that there is nothing to gain from being vaccinated, instead of encouraging them to get vaccinated by citing the benefits received by those who had already been fully vaccinated.
We are hopeful that with this compromise or suggestion of even a weekend pass, from Friday to Sunday for senior citizens regardless of age, the DOH would reconsider its position. Giving the elderly such a special privilege even for a limited period would at least give them additional mobility for their physical well-being, and also to contribute to the reopening of certain economic activities in our country.
Common sense and practical considerations would tell us there is more protection against the virus in a fully vaccinated person than in one who has not even received the first dose. For
instance, which has more protection—a group of 100 unvaccinated persons aged 18-65 in an indoor restaurant, or a group of 100 persons, regardless of age, who are all fully vaccinated? How about in a group of 100 persons in an indoor restaurant composed of 50 unvaccinated persons and 50 fully vaccinated persons?
Surely, the indoor restaurant with fully vaccinated persons and/or the one with 50 percent vaccinated and 50 percent unvaccinated people would have more protection against the virus among their customers than the one with unvaccinated clients only.
In easing the regulation, the DOH need not fear the sudden rush of fully vaccinated people into indoor premises during weekends, because the number of people to be allowed indoors as required by the DOH and IATF shall still be observed. All we are asking now is that a certain percentage of those allowed indoors and into other premises be allotted to fully vaccinated senior citizens,
regardless of age, at least during weekends or during Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Example: If in an al fresco setting, 50-percent seating capacity is allowed, at least 20 percent should be allowed for fully vaccinated people, while 30 percent is given to unvaccinated persons.
In other countries, fully vaccinated people are given special access to hotels, restaurants, casinos, and other places of entertainment. The DOH may take a cue from the National Basketball Association (NBA) current playoffs, where venues have sections for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated fans. There is no reason why the same could not be applied to fully vaccinated people in our country, regardless of age, at least during weekends. We repeat: Let these elderly folk enjoy saying, “Thank God It’s Friday.”
ROMULO B. MACALINTAL
Senior Citizens’ Rights Advocate
Las Piñas City
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