Vaccination Isn’t Something You Outgrow


Every year, immunization prevents 2-3 million deaths worldwide, and according to UNICEF and the World Bank, only clean drinking water rivals vaccination in its ability to save lives. Despite these facts, the results of a 2019 national Ipsos survey commissioned by the Canadian arm of global healthcare company GSK, show that Canadian adults may not be vigilant in seeking to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Canadians recognize the importance of adult vaccinations, but lack knowledge about them

82% of Canadian adults surveyed say that staying up to date with vaccinations appropriate to them is important. Yet, only 59% say they are knowledgeable about adult vaccines. Shockingly, 27% say that keeping up to date on adult vaccinations simply isn’t a priority for them.

Adult vaccinations can help reduce potential health risks

Keeping up to date on recommended vaccines in adulthood can help reduce our risk for certain diseases. Dr. Michael Wortzman, Medical Affairs Manager and Scientific Advisor with GSK Canada explains, “As we age, our immune system gradually gets weaker and is less effective at protecting us from disease, which increases our chances of catching infections.”

Interestingly, some diseases more commonly affect older adults and people may not realize that these diseases can potentially be prevented with vaccines. “Shingles is a painful rash caused by a previous viral infection that predominantly affects those over 50. The likelihood of being infected with influenza and the potential severity of the disease also increases as we age,” noted Dr. Wortzman. “In addition, the protection provided by some vaccines you got as a child can wear off over time, so a booster vaccination in adulthood may be needed. Tetanus vaccination, for example, is recommended to be received every 10 years.”

Not all recommended vaccinations are free

Canadian adults appear to be less aware of what vaccines they may need beyond those provided through public immunization programs. According to the survey, more than half (56%) of Canadians believe that all vaccines that are important for them to have are provided free through their province’s public health program. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. There may be vaccines that are recommended for you by your healthcare provider that are not covered by the publicly funded routine immunization program in your province or territory. In such instances, coverage may be available through a private medical insurance plan or you’d need to pay out of pocket for the vaccine.

Take the time to learn about which vaccines may be right for you at what age

“Given the many competing health priorities to cover during healthcare visits, it’s essential for Canadians to understand the importance of immunization throughout life, so they can consider making it a priority to discuss with their healthcare providers which vaccines may be right for them at what age,” said Dr. Wortzman.

According to the survey, doctors ranked as the number-one source of reference for Canadians on adult vaccines, with more than 84% saying they would turn to their doctor or primary care provider for advice on vaccinations. Yet only 29% of Canadians asked their doctor or healthcare provider for advice on adult vaccines in the last year.

Take the time to learn about which vaccines may be right for you.