Canada’s Flu Vaccination Rate Has Flat-lined

Less than 40 percent of Canadians have been getting the annual flu shot
winter canadian scene

According to a new report, Canada is failing to meet federal flu vaccination goals. 

Just 38 percent of Canadians were vaccinated against the seasonal flu during 2017/18, according to an internal Public Health Agency of Canada report, obtained under Access to Information laws, reported Catharine Tunney with CBC News.

Moreover, this report says the number of Canadians getting the annual flu shot has basically flatlined since 2015 when just 34.3 percent of Canadians said they were vaccinated.   

Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer at the Public Health Agency of Canada, said in this CBC article, ‘they're looking into why so many people aren't getting the shot.’

While the vaccination programs themselves fall under provincial jurisdiction, the Public Health Agency promotes the vaccinations nationally and monitors the spread of flu and flu-like illnesses. 

On average, the flu sends 12,200 Canadians to a hospital and kills 3,500 a year — "an underappreciated contributor to mortality," said Dr. Njoo. 

This report showed 63 percent of children aged six to 59 months in surveyed households were not vaccinated. 

Again, when asked why, this report said ‘parents said they didn't think the vaccination was needed.’ 

"Even if you don't think that you personally are at risk, it's important to get the flu vaccine because you can also protect your loved ones, those who might be at a higher risk because of chronic diseases," said Dr. Njoo. 

But, this report has some good news. 

About 71 percent of seniors in Canada were vaccinated against the flu virus last winter. 

In the USA, influenza activity remains low, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

But, as of November 7th, there have been 2 pediatric deaths reported in the USA for the 2018-2019 influenza season. 

Previously, during the 2017-2018 season, the CDC confirmed a total of 183 influenza-associated pediatric deaths. 

According to the CDC, approximately 80 percent of these pediatric deaths were unvaccinated children. 

Since influenza is so common, flu-related fatalities are not always listed on death certificates. To compensate for this reporting issue, the CDC uses statistical models, which are periodically revised, to make its estimates.   

The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months of age get vaccinated by the end of October each year. 

There are various flu vaccines available for the 2018-19 season. If you have questions, it's best to speak with your doctor, nurse or pharmacists. 

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector prices for general information. 

Flu vaccine discounts can be found here. 

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.