Pasay City

Rising to the Challenges of Flu Vaccination Acceptance: The RAISE Coalition

The Raising Awareness on Influenza to Support Elderlies (RAISE) Coalition is a multi-stakeholder group organized by the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination with Lead Convenors namely: Dr. Rontgene Solante, Dr. Maria Rosario Capeding, and Dr. Lulu Bravo, that takes a whole-of-society approach to improving the health outcomes of our beloved Lolos and Lolas.

The COVID pandemic helped spotlight the importance of vaccination in protecting our most vulnerable against infectious diseases. Still, many Filipino families are not protected from the flu. As we were transitioning towards a post-pandemic, health experts warned that such infectious diseases remained a threat for unvaccinated senior citizens – with three times increased risk of heart attack and stroke in the first two weeks of infection.

In late 2022, the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination spearheaded a meeting with more than one hundred leaders of other medical associations, local government units, civil organizations, legislative champions, and the Department of Health (DOH). This fruitful discussion led to the creation of the RAISE Coalition and gained support from all sectors to push for systemic improvements for the country’s flu response.

The Coalition was formally launched in partnership with the Pasay City Local Government Unit, alongside the DOH, the Senior Citizens’ Partylist, the National Commission of Senior Citizens, and civil society organization Bayan Bakuna. This was just the beginning for the group, who plans to bring their vaccine advocacy to more areas around the country, while continuing the call for the amendment of the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 in a bid to provide free flu vaccines to all senior citizens nationwide.

While the proposed amendment is underway on its third reading following its approval from the House of Representatives Committee, the RAISE Coalition has also reached out to concerned agencies to improve the coverage rates of the government’s current existing Flu public vaccination program. The call to discuss such measures has already gained positive responses from the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Commission for Senior Citizens (NSCS), and Civil Organization Bayan Bakuna.

Soon, this whole-of-society approach will benefit Filipino communities nationwide, with these stakeholders agreeing to develop a comprehensive plan and translate it into a Joint Memorandum of Circular to ensure that implementation of flu vaccination for all is well guided.