Fund best-in-class vaccines for all seniors - CARP

Immunization Saves More Canadian Lives Than Any Other Form of Health Intervention

There are several best-in-class vaccinations for the “Big 3” illnesses that pose the most risk to older adults (influenza, pneumonia and shingles), which are proven to be more effective in protecting seniors. These vaccinations are recommended by Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the trusted body that our governments look to for guidance when planning their immunization strategies.

So if we know all this, it begs the question: why aren’t governments across Canada fully funding these recommended vaccinations, which have the power to save countless lives every year, and making them easily accessible to seniors?

Currently, funding for these vaccinations is hit-and-miss across provincial/territorial lines.

We celebrate CARP’s advocacy win: the best-in-class NACI recommended high-dose flu vaccine is now available at no charge to adults 65+ in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon, New Brunswick and P.E.I.

However, some other provinces only fund it for people in long-term care, or not at all. The recommended vaccines for shingles is only funded in Ontario, and pneumonia vaccines aren’t fully-funded anywhere.

CARP is demanding that best-in-class vaccines for seniors be publicly funded, and easily accessible, in all provinces and territories.

This is the best way to keep seniors out of hospitals, reducing care costs and keeping older adults healthy and active in their communities.

  • Best-in-class vaccines should be included in any national pharmacare plan
  • Vaccines should be made available in multiple avenues, including through pharmacies and other accessible points of distribution nation-wide
  • Adult immunization should become a preventative health priority for all provinces and territories

CARP is concerned about the 2022 – 2023 flu season.

The last two flu seasons had low flu rates because the public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 also helped control the spread of the flu. With those measures no longer active, there is a population that has not been exposed to as much influenza the past couple of years and is potentially at greater risk for being infected this year.

Several respiratory viruses circulating simultaneously create stressors on our community and our health-care system, making it more challenging to receive adequate care if needed.

Seniors in long-term care are even more vulnerable—over 60% of flu and pneumonia outbreaks are in care homes —opening frail residents and those with chronic health conditions up to extreme levels of risk.

Without full funding from governments, many people can’t afford to shield themselves with these lifesaving vaccines, which can cost up to $300 per person.

Seniors deserve to live with the peace of mind that they’re protected from the highly preventable illnesses that pose a real (and annually recurring) threat to their lives.

Every year that these vaccines go unfunded for all seniors, hundreds of thousands of lives are put at risk. It just doesn’t make sense.

Quick Facts

  • There is a correlation between public funding of vaccines and vaccine coverage. A recent survey revealed only 28% of people 50+ had received the shingles vaccine while 58% of older adults had received the publicly-funded pneumococcal vaccine (CARP is lobbying for the other vaccine option to be funded, as well)
  • Seniors fall well below the federal immunization rate goal (80% of the population vaccinated) for all 3 of the Big 3 illnesses (influenza, pneumococcal and shingles)
  • Seniors are at risk of severe and long lasting complications from hospitalization resulting from infection

Influenza

  • Adults 65 years of age and older have the highest overall hospitalization rate (60%), and the highest likelihood of death, from influenza.
  • Seniors in long-term care are at increased risk of contracting flu. 62% of reported outbreaks in 2018-19 were in long-term care facilities, and a further 22% were in other settings (e.g. retirement homes, correctional facilities, etc.)
  • The NACI recommended high-dose flu vaccine is proven 24% more effective for seniors

Pneumococcal (Pneumonia)

  • Seniors in long-term care are at increased risk of contracting pneumonia. 

Shingles

  • Shingles can affect anyone who has not had the chickenpox vaccine, including people who had chickenpox as a child
  • There are about 130,000 cases in Canada every year, with nearly 1 in 3 people developing shingles in their lifetime
  • 10% of cases lead to hospitalization
  • Research shows the newer vaccine has an effectiveness of over 90%

Flu, Pneumonia and Shingles

Check out CARP’s information and resources on the big three: Influenza, Pneumonia and Shingles.

Resources

Adult Immunization Guide

This handy guide helps you keep track of your vaccinations and includes a full schedule of the ones you should get to fully protect yourself from the illnesses that pose the biggest risk to older adults.

Download the guide

Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones From The Flu

Check out this informative guide from the Global Coalition on Aging and Immunize Canada

Download the Guide