Help Canadian seniors get access to the high-dose flu vaccine.
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Canada’s Flu Vaccine Program Puts Seniors at Risk
Help give Canada’s seniors a fighting chance against the flu and its consequences!
Flu Free Canada, a coalition of patients, seniors, healthcare practitioners, and other stakeholders, calls upon the provincial and territorial governments to take immediate action to provide seniors with the vaccine they need to protect against the flu. Why is action urgently needed now?
Three reasons. Seniors are more likely to catch the flu. Seniors are less likely to be protected by the standard flu vaccine. Seniors are more likely to suffer serious complications, including death, as a result of the flu.
Why now? Flu vaccination should start after Labour Day for younger people and around Halloween for seniors.
Why seniors? As we get older, our immune system gets weaker. The standard flu vaccine is about half as effective for seniors as for younger people. That is why the CDC in the USA and Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recognize the high-dose flu vaccine as more appropriate for seniors.
Seniors are also more likely to experience serious complications of flu. Each year, over 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized as a result of flu. About 70%, or 8,500, are seniors. What are these complications? They include pneumonia, lung disease, heart attacks and strokes, kidney failure, and diabetes.
About 15% of those hospitalized will suffer catastrophic disability, meaning they will lose their independence, perhaps lose mobility, and perhaps end up in a nursing home.
Each year, an estimated 3,500 Canadians die from flu complications. Over 90% are over the age of 65. That means, on average, 3,150 Canadian seniors die from flu complications. The biggest tragedy is that many of these deaths could have been prevented.
Even if a senior gets the flu, with the high-dose vaccine, he or she will be better protected against serious complications and less likely to be hospitalized.
The standard vaccine is half as effective for seniors; the high-dose vaccine offers about 25% more protection. The price differential is small ($25) and the overall impact, given fewer hospitalizations and lower healthcare costs, is net savings of $50 per person vaccinated.
It’s hard to understand why Canada won’t provide the high-dose vaccine for seniors. About 65% of American seniors and 65% of Canadian seniors get a flu shot every year. In the USA, about 80% of seniors will get the high-dose vaccine. In Canada, only about 10% of seniors receive the high-dose vaccine. The high-dose vaccine has been approved by Health Canada, recognized as better protection by the Public Health Agency of Canada, endorsed by many clinician and seniors groups but still not funded by the public drug plans.
Please help get the word to your elected officials that our seniors deserve the protection of high-dose flu vaccine.
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