Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases in Canada are a “disturbing” reminder of insufficient immunization coverage in Canada, according to a new CD Howe Institute report.
In 2011, Quebec reported over 700 cases of measles, followed by pertussis in Ontario in 2013, in Prince Edward Island in 2014 and 2017, and in Manitoba and In New Brunswick in 2015.
This outbreak of infectious diseases “should cause […] public health to take a break and look at the alarming status of immunization coverage among Canadian children,” the report concludes.
Most provinces do not achieve the goal of immunization for many infectious diseases, especially in preschool children.
For example, in British Columbia, only 70% of 2-year-olds and 62% of preschool children are fully up-to-date in their immunization program. In Quebec, less than 75% of 2 year olds are fully up to date.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, 95% of the population must be immunized to develop a group immunity.
The CD Howe Institute. Deplores the fact that many children have received only a portion of all the vaccines they should have received. Others received only the first dose, thus decreasing the efficacy of the vaccine administered.
In addition, it is difficult to obtain complete data on immunization coverage of school-aged children in some provinces.
“Quebec data is estimated from survey data and probably overestimates coverage,” the authors of the report said, also pointing to gaps in information gathering in Ontario and New Brunswick.
For its part, British Columbia is failing to adequately compile the level of vaccination in high-density areas such as Vancouver.
Why do parents not vaccinate their children?
Despite all the scientific evidence, more and more parents are expressing concerns about the risks associated with immunization.
The vaccination campaigns of the last century have eliminated several infectious diseases, so that new generations of parents have not experienced major epidemics and are therefore less aware of the sometimes fatal consequences of these diseases.
However, according to the report, only 2% of Canadians strongly oppose vaccination.
They are not the main reason for insufficient vaccination coverage. Undoubtedly, too much attention and energy are devoted to trying to refute them.
How can we explain the inadequacy of immunization coverage in the country?
The reasons for incomplete immunization are often complex and related to the socioeconomic context of the family. Some parents feel they do not have enough information about the risks of vaccines; Others say they are too busy or say they do not have access to a doctor; Others are reluctant to have their children immunized because of the costs.
“Immunization saves lives. With vaccines, serious and often devastating diseases that are preventable by vaccination are no longer the norm in Canada. In any case, too few Canadians get vaccinated, “Health Minister Jane Philpott told a news conference Wednesday, announcing new investments for projects to improve immunization coverage in the country .
Economic reasons for vaccination
According to the report, money spent on immunization against measles, mumps and rubella during childhood reduces the number of visits to health facilities, the number of hospitalizations, premature deaths, and holidays That parents have to take care of their sick children.
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that every dollar spent on childhood immunization generates $ 16 in savings.
The authors propose some approaches to improve the vaccination rate:
- Use electronic records to track coverage from birth to adulthood;
- Target reluctant parents and follow up by phone or e-mail;
- Expand the role of public health nurses in the administration of vaccines;
- Use school and daycare as an opportunity to assess and promote coverage;
- Increase parents’ awareness of the benefits of immunization.
Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News. She covers politics and the economy.