"The new strain of influenza, called H1N1 or “swine flu,” began in April 2009 and quickly spread around the world as most people had no natural immunity to it.The federal government ordered 50.4 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine to immunize against the global pandemic from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Inc., which manufactured the Canadian order at its plant in Ste-Foy, Que."
This doesn't sound eerily familiar, no...
OTTAWA—The majority of Canadians decided not to get vaccinated against the swine flu pandemic last year, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.
About 16.5 million (or 59 per cent) of Canadians aged 12 and over — excluding the territories — reported to the federal data collection agency that they did not receive the H1N1 vaccination during the last influenza season.
That means that only 41 per cent of the population, about 11.6 million people, decided to roll up their sleeves for a shot in the arm during the largest mass immunization campaign in Canadian history.
The new strain of influenza, called H1N1 or “swine flu,” began in April 2009 and quickly spread around the world as most people had no natural immunity to it.
The federal government ordered 50.4 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine to immunize against the global pandemic from pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline Inc., which manufactured the Canadian order at its plant in Ste-Foy, Que.
Public health agencies across all levels of government held public awareness campaigns to urge people to get the vaccine, but despite the long lineups at flu clinics and frustrations over perceived delays in rolling out the doses, most Canadians ended up feeling they did not need to get it.
Statistics Canada reports that 74 per cent of respondents who did not get the vaccine cited they “did not think it was necessary” as the reason for their choice.
The Public Health Agency of Canada stands by the size of its vaccine order, noting that at the time the World Health Organization believed that people would need two doses to be immunized, and 50.4 million doses would cover 75 per cent of the population.
“Although preliminary clinical trial results in the fall suggested a single H1N1 vaccine dose could provide adequate protection from infection, in the absence of more conclusive results, Canada opted to put the safety of Canadian’s first and maintain its original vaccine order,” Charlene Wiles, a spokeswoman for the federal public health agency, wrote in an email Thursday.
Wiles also noted that the Statistics Canada report showed Canadians had one of “the highest vaccination rates in the world” and that more people got the H1N1 vaccine than the 32 per cent who chose to be immunized against the seasonal flu in 2008.
Some groups of the population — such as health-care workers and pregnant women — were given earlier access to the vaccine because of their increased risk of catching the illness or developing more severe symptoms if they did.
Statistics Canada shows that rates of vaccination were in fact higher among some of those groups.
Sixty-six per cent of health-care workers, for example, decided to get vaccinated, compared to 35 per cent who did not.
More pregnant women chose to get the vaccine than those who did not, but the report says the difference (47 per cent compared to 38 per cent) was not statistically significant.
Statistics Canada said the numbers would help governments as they update their pandemic preparedness plan.
“The information in this article about who did and did not get vaccinated against H1N1 will aid in the evaluation of the program, support public health planning and help target messages about vaccination in the event of another pandemic,” said the report.
The data was collected during the 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey between January and April this year, which covers the population of households over the age of 12 in all provinces.
It excludes the military, residents of Indian reserves, institutions, some remote areas and people living on Canadian Forces bases.
Statistics Canada collected 63.6 per cent of the data by telephone and 36.4 per cent of the data from personal interviews form a sample of 20,855 individuals.
The response rate was 73.1 per cent.
Most Canadians skipped H1N1 vaccine: StatsCan
Published 2010-09-30 by Toronto Star