Survey Says: CARP members share perspective on vaccinations

This past fall, CARP surveyed members about preventable diseases and vaccinations. Here’s an overview of what you shared with us.

The older we get, the more likely we are to suffer severe consequences from getting sick, including increased risk of heart attack, hospitalization and worse. One of the best ways to take control of your health, protecting both yourself and your loved ones, is to keep up to date with your vaccinations against the big 5 preventable illnesses—COVID-19, Influenza, Pneumonia, Shingles, and now, because of a vaccine newly available in Canada, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is a trusted body of experts that make recommendations for the use of vaccines in Canada. This is who our governments look to for guidance when planning their immunization strategies. Currently NACI has recommendations related to seniors for covid-19, influenza, pneumonia, and shingles, and is currently reviewing the new RSV vaccine

Respondents expressed great trust in vaccines, and the vast majority believe in the benefits of vaccines.  In fact, according to our recent surveys:

  • Four out of five say “everyone should ensure they receive all the vaccines that could help them prevent serious illness;”
  • 96% somewhat agree or strongly agree that “adult vaccines are a good health care tool to help protect individuals against diseases.”
  • When asked, “what is the #1 reason why you think recommended adult vaccines by NACI should be provided for free by the government?” 56% of respondents answered, “The government should pay for them as vaccines prevent health care visits and hospitalization.”

Nonetheless, seniors fall well below the federal immunization rate goal (80% of the population vaccinated).  Why?

Education gap: There is still work to do in increasing the awareness of why the Big 5 vaccinations are so important. For example, while a significant number of CARP members know about pneumococcal disease and vaccines, many remain unaware of the severity of pneumococcal disease (e.g., only 52% know that pneumonia is among the top 10 causes of death for Canadian adults). Another example is that individuals may think current good health means they don’t have to worry about potential severe impacts from influenza.


Unfortunately, not all NACI-recommended vaccines are covered across Canada. This has a significant impact on affordability — and consequently, vaccination rates.

  • According to our survey, over 50% of members do not have private coverage for vaccines.
  • Many respondents do not feel they can afford the vaccines and are far less likely to get important vaccines when they are not funded. While approximately 88% off over 2000 survey respondents had received or said they would receive flu and COVID vaccines this year, only 30% indicated they would do so if they had to pay for the vaccines themselves. That’s an attrition rate of 63% because of affordability.
  • When asked if there were any reasons a respondent might not take a NACI-approved vaccine, of those who said yes, over 55% of individuals indicated, “The cost isn’t covered.”

Perception of government funded v/s non-funded vaccines: Provinces and territories do not fund all NACI-recommended vaccines, however, the safety and efficacy of the vaccines have no bearing on the their reasons do not relate to the safety or efficacy of the vaccines in question. Respondents demonstrated a lack of clarity on this issue.

  • In response to the statements, “Publicly funded vaccines are safer than vaccines not publicly funded,” and “Publicly funded vaccines are more effective than vaccines not publicly funded” only just over one third of respondents indicated these statements were false. The other two thirds believed these statements to be true or were not sure. Unfortunately, when provinces and territories do not fund NACI-recommended vaccines, the public potentially perceives these vaccines to be less safe or effective when this is not the case.

Ninety-five percent of respondents believe all adult vaccines recommended for older adults by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) should be publicly funded (free).   It is clear that our members believe the government should be playing a far more active role (through education as well as funding) in ensuring that all older Canadians receive vaccines that are recommended to protect them from preventable illness. CARP couldn’t agree more: All older Canadians should have equitable access to the most effective vaccines available.