Across Canada, influenza vaccination coverage increased from 39 per cent in 2021 to 2022 to 43 per cent in 2022 to 2023, according to a Statistics Canada report.
The report also states that vaccination coverage is back to the pre-pandemic levels.
“There is certainly more awareness now with vaccinations, especially with COVID-19. So I think people are realizing that there’s a benefit to a vaccination,” said Dr. John Forster-Coull, owner of Victoria Compounding Pharmacy. “Additionally, I think they also realize there’s sort of two main reasons you get vaccinated. One is for yourself, but more importantly, it’s for somebody else so you don’t get sick and spread it all over the place. So I think people are becoming more socially conscious of the fact that vaccinations do several things, not just protect you from getting sick.”
Although the level of vaccinations has increased, seniors are still the demographic receiving the most vaccination coverage at 74 per cent.
“Elderly people will die of influenza infection, particularly if they got a significant amount of comorbidity disease or they’re in a sort of enclosed environment such as a nursing home or a care home. So, it’s really important to target this population,” said Forster-Coull.
The report also noted that 30 per cent of adults had received a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as receiving their flu shot. Forster-Coull recommended this at his pharmacy as it’s a one-stop shop.
“It’s completely up to them if they want to get the COVID-19 shot as well depending on their population, but we do a lot of influenza vaccination as well as COVID-19 vaccination,” said the doctor.
Forster-Coull added that part of the problem of people not receiving vaccines is doing them separately.
“Then there’s a greater chance that people are not going to bother getting the second one,” he said.
StatsCan also reported that within Canada, the most common reason 47 per cent of people got their flu shot was to prevent infection, but the most common reason 21 per cent of people didn’t get their flu shot was that they didn’t get around to it.