Allow seniors to use Medisave for flu jabs

The call to get adults to go for vaccinations is timely ("Getting adults to go for vaccinations"; May 14).

The reported rate of below 20 per cent for adults and 10 per cent for those aged 50 to 69, as compared with that of some Western nations, where the immunisation rate is between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, is dismal, and could be due to ignorance.

This is where education can play a part in getting the adults, particularly the elderly, immunised.

From my conversation with friends, some of them simply hate being pricked by needles, and cannot bear the slightest pain, while others cite cost as a factor, given that the majority of them are retirees with no income.

Polyclinics charge $25 for an influenza vaccination, which is effective for a year. Some of the elderly who are above 65 years old also go for the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination, which costs around $70 and is good for five years.

Under current rules, people cannot use Medisave to pay for both influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations, unless they are at higher risk of developing influenza-related complications and severe pneumococcal disease respectively.

With our rapidly ageing population, diseases are a concern among the elderly, whose low immunity may often lead to hospitalisation. Among the common ones are influenza and pneumonia.

To encourage our adults, especially the elderly, to go for vaccinations, perhaps the Ministry of Health could consider allowing them to use their Medisave accounts for flu jabs.

After all, many elderly people are getting annual Medisave top-ups, and such usage will not make a dent in their Medisave accounts.

Andrew Seow Chwee Guan