CARP Pushes for Equitable Vaccine Access

This year, one of CARP’s key pre-budget recommendations relates to government funding of recommended vaccines for older Canadians. 

Every year, prior to the Federal government’s release of the budget in February or March, The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) provides the government with a comprehensive budget submission and recommendations.

Our submissions and recommendations urge the government forward on CARP’s key advocacy priorities, and are a strategic roadmap in support of our mission: equitable access to the best available healthcare, financial security, ageing with dignity, and freedom from ageism for all older Canadians.u

Why Immunize?

Over the past 50 years, immunization has saved more lives in Canada than any other health intervention, and contributes to helping older Canadian live longer, healthier lives.

Vaccination remains 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, influenza (“The flu”), pneumococcal disease (including pneumonia), shingles, and most recently, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

This is particularly the case the older we get, as risk of severe consequences from getting sick increase, including increased risk of heart attack, hospitalization and worse.

Every case of illness prevented saves thousands of dollars for the health system and weeks of discomfort and distress for patients and their families, and even death in some cases. Older Canadians more than anyone in the country experienced this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, the unfortunate reality is that benefits of disease-preventing vaccines are not equally accessible across Canada. 

Did you know…

  • Immunization prevents 40% of hospitalizations due to influenza (the flu) in adults 65+. 
  • Pneumonia is one of the top 10 causes of hospitalization in adults over 65
  • 2/3 of all shingles cases occur in adults over age 50
  • People over the age of 60 are at higher risk for severe RSV disease due to age-related decline in immunity and underlying health conditions 
  • Most COVID-19 deaths occur in people older than 65

Who Should Pay for Vaccines?

A recent CARP survey showed that over 94% of CARP members believe the government should be funding all National Advisory Committee on Immunizations (NACI)-recommended vaccines. NACI is the expert body that the Canadian government looks to for recommendations related to immunization.

Currently, provincial and territorial governments are in charge of funding vaccines.  This means that while NACI may make a strong recommendation in support of a vaccine, the reality is that each province/territory will respond differently in deciding whether or not to fund it, and to what extent. What’s more, the decision to fund often has nothing to do with the importance of the vaccine, nor its efficacy.  

CARP believes your postal code should not dictate your access to health.

CARP is urging the federal government to allocate additional funding to the provinces/territories so they can provide all of the latest and best available NACI recommended adult vaccines to seniors in Canada. CARP also wants the government to ensure they enhance their public awareness of their availability and importance.

 Many serious illnesses, which take an immense toll every year on older adults and the health system, can be prevented through vaccines. Canada can do better at protecting its seniors from preventable illness.

Read CARP’s Recommendation here. Read other submissions here.