Consider grants for the elderly to get key vaccinations

Polyclinics charge about $25 for an influenza vaccination, which is effective for a year, while a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination costs around $75 and is good for five years.
Polyclinics charge about $25 for an influenza vaccination, which is effective for a year, while a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination costs around $75 and is good for five years.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

The call for the public, particularly the elderly, to go for pneumococcal jabs is timely (More pneumonia deaths but low take-up for vaccine, April 24), and there could be several reasons for the low take-up rate of the vaccination.

One reason may be cost, which could be a big consideration, especially for the low-income.

They are likely to prioritise their daily basic needs over vaccinations.

Polyclinics charge about $25 for an influenza vaccination, which is effective for a year, while a pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination costs around $75 and is good for five years.

Although Medisave can now be tapped for both flu and pneumonia jabs, many needy elderly people may not have sufficient funds in their Medisave accounts as they are likely to have used the money for other medical problems.

Even with the annual $200 top-ups to their Medisave accounts, as well as other eligible subsidies to pay for their annual MediShield Life premiums, the elderly may hardly have money left to use for vaccinations.

Perhaps the Government should take the lead by setting aside a grant for both immunisation jabs for elderly people.

Thereafter, the five community development councils could undertake this responsibility as a form of a community health outreach programme.

With our rapidly ageing population, diseases are a concern among the elderly, whose low immunity may often lead to them being hospitalised. Among the common medical issues are influenza and pneumonia.

After all, this is a form of appreciation to our pioneers who have, in one way or another, built this nation.

Andrew Seow Chwee Guan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline 'Consider grants for the elderly to get key vaccinations'. Print Edition | Subscribe