FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saskatchewan Receives a "D-" in CanAge's Latest Vaccine Report Card
Regina, SK – Sept.,11, ‘23 In the third annual Vaccine Report Card (2022-23), CanAge, Canada's national seniors advocacy organization, has awarded Saskatchewan a grade of "D-." For the 200,000+ seniors in the province, robust vaccination strategies are essential to safeguard the health of this significant demographic.
The 2022-2023 Vaccine Report Card doesn't just present numbers and grades, but reflects the quality of life and health security for our nation’s seniors. Increased vaccinations equate to increased well-being and reduced health care costs, yet governments still are not funding and distributing NACI-recommended vaccines seriously enough.
Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge explains, “We have 3 key vaccines which are critical to adult health, particularly for seniors, with a 4th (RSV) likely on the way. Vaccines only work if they are funded, easily accessible, and communicated with solid information by trusted sources.
Saskatchewan has taken positive steps by funding senior-specific flu vaccines and implementing a comprehensive annual influenza program.
However, significant gaps remain as Saskatchewan does not currently fund shingles vaccines for its senior population. Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge notes that, “Public funding for the highly effective (94%+) shingles vaccine needs to be an immediate priority for governments. Shingles is hugely painful and debilitating, and treating it requires significant acute care costs which could be almost completely avoided through vaccination. Problematically, opioids are often prescribed to manage pain, and there is no cure for Shingles.”
Furthermore, Saskatchewan has not updated its documentation to reflect the funding of best-in-class pneumonia vaccines, as recommended by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) over six months ago. The organization emphasizes the critical role these vaccines play in protecting vulnerable seniors, especially those in long-term care and congregate settings.
Tamblyn Watts cautions, “The best-in-class pneumonia vaccinations are critical for vulnerable seniors, or any adult living in a long-term or congregate care settings. A wave of infectious pneumonia spreading through vulnerable populations is deadly. Many of those deaths can be prevented by the new pneumonia vaccine."
Each year, provinces and territories determine how much and which vaccines to purchase. Only COVID19 vaccines were block-purchased by the federal government then distributed to provinces. For influenza, pneumonia, RSV and shingles, every province makes up its own budget and coverage rules. This leads to an inadequate “patchwork” approach which allows infections to spread and health equity to suffer.
“The COVID19 pandemic may now be over, but vaccine-preventable disease is not. We must get serious about immunization or pay the price in lost lives, a broken health care system, and a stumbling economy. If COVID19 taught us anything, it taught us that,” warns Tamblyn Watts.
Saskatchewan's "D-" grade serves as a call to action to address gaps and strengthen immunization initiatives for older adults.
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Media Relations, CanAge