Canadians' level of vaccine fatigue has pharmacists worried heading into cold and flu season
With the fall virus season upon us, pharmacists are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated this season and raising concerns about the impact vaccine fatigue is having on Canadians’ decisions to roll up their sleeves this fall.
According to an annual national vaccination survey conducted by the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), over half of Canadians have moderate to very high vaccine fatigue.
While up slightly from last year’s survey, still only 54% of Canadians say they will get the flu shot this year—a long way off from our national vaccination coverage target of 80%. Of those who don’t plan on getting the flu shot, the belief that the flu shot is unnecessary and vaccine hesitancy are the top reasons indicated.
Just under half of Canadians (47%) say they are planning to get a COVID-19 booster shot this fall. The main deterrents reported include the belief that it is unnecessary for them and vaccine fatigue.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)
The survey also asked Canadians about RSV. Despite being a common respiratory virus, there is a fairly limited awareness surrounding RSV (only 32% are at least somewhat familiar with the virus).
56% of those 60 years or older would likely get the RSV vaccine if its available to them. The RSV vaccine was recently approved by Health Canada for those 60 years and older and will be available at some pharmacies this season.
While its still too early to say if we will see the same level of severity as last season, the circulation of influenza, COVID-19 and RSV will put significant pressure on our health-care system in the weeks and months ahead.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is recommending updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the Omicron XBB.1.5 subvariant this fall for all authorized age groups. In many cases COVID-19 boosters can be administered at the same time as flu shots, which typically become available at pharmacies in October.