CanAge, a national organization that advocates for senior citizens in Canada, has given Ontario a poor grade on the issue of helping seniors get the best vaccines they need as they deal with the struggles of being older.
CanAge has just released its third annual Vaccine Report Care (2022-2023) and has sounded what it says is "an urgent call for action for Ontario" and has given Ontario a grade of "D.”
"With over 2.77 million seniors aged 65 and older, accounting for 18.36 per cent of the total population in the province, the need for robust vaccination strategies is paramount," said the CanAge news release.
The organization said the key reason for Ontario's poor grade is that the province has not updated its pneumococcal vaccine supply and guidelines with the recommendations provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) over six months ago.
Laura Tamblyn Watts is the founder and CEO of CanAge. She cautions that “The best-in-class pneumonia vaccinations are critical for vulnerable seniors, or any adult living in a long-term or congregate care setting. A wave of infectious pneumonia spreading through vulnerable populations is deadly. Many of those deaths can be prevented by the new pneumonia vaccine."
CanAge also raised questions about the accessibility of all vaccines, given that pharmacists in Ontario have an expanded scope of practice.
The organization questions why shingles vaccines and pneumonia vaccines are not yet publicly-funded and available at pharmacies, for all older adults.
CanAge emphasizes that updated NACI-recommended pneumonia vaccines should have broad distribution, similar to flu vaccines, and should also be considered for pharmacy distribution, said the news release.
On a positive note, CanAge said it was noteworthy that Ontario is one of only four provinces that publicly funds best-in-class shingles vaccines for seniors aged 65-70.
However, CanAge suggested Ontario might consider a public catch-up campaign for those who may have missed their shingles vaccine window during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full online text of the Canada Vaccine Report card can be found here: