How to address low vaxx coverage in BARMM
The low COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has significant policy implications and suggests that the relevant stakeholders, policymakers, and development partners should prioritize the population, undertaking targeted strategies to increase vaccination coverage among vulnerable groups like older persons.
BARMM has the highest poverty incidence among older persons recorded in the entire country. It is possible that many BARMM individuals had difficulties with COVID-19 vaccine registration, which are concerns for older people with limited health and digital literacy. Therefore, both the national and regional governments should take immediate action to ease their registration process. The use of volunteers can be of crucial importance in this regard like deploying a unique team for disseminating COVID-19 vaccine information among the poor, vulnerable, and rural older people and motivating them to get vaccinated.
Interestingly, there are high levels of misconceptions regarding COVID-19 among the older people leading to higher vaccine hesitancy among them. Therefore, policymakers and public health practitioners must consider disseminating COVID-19 vaccination-related appropriate messages, targeting the older person. Local leaders and imams (religious leaders) who are respected and valued in the community can play a pivotal role in sharing this information with the older population. In disseminating the COVID-19 vaccination-related information among older persons, it could be practical to use audiovisual materials instead of leaflets or written documents because of older people’s limited literacy and education.
Additionally, community health nurses, an integral part of the health systems in the Philippines and BARMM, can contribute to the widespread dissemination of COVID-19 vaccine-related information explicitly targeting the older people in this region.
Je Babate, [email protected]
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