May 11, 2012
As the flu season comes to an end, the Quebec and BC Lung Associations reveal discouraging results from Canada's first national Flu Report Card. This is worrisome news given that 25% of Canadians still got the flu during a mild season with the same flu strains circulating since 2010. Top honours go to British Columbia, who received an overall grade of A, while Quebec received the lowest score of F, followed closely behind by Ontario with a D-. The complete Flu Report Card can be accessed here: http://www.pq.lung.ca/pdf/grippe/GrippeE.pdf and at www.bc.lung.ca .
"We wanted to see how prepared Quebeckers are for the flu season compared to the rest of Canada," said Dominique Massie, Executive Director of the Quebec Lung Association. "What we found is that Quebeckers had the lowest vaccination rate in Canada and the highest flu incidence. Clearly Quebeckers are not ready for a severe flu season."
Overall, flu vaccination rates in Canada were very low with only 36% of Canadian adults reporting that they were vaccinated. Surprise, surprise -provinces with the highest vaccination rates typically reported the lowest flu incidence rates.
- BC had the highest vaccination rate at 52% and among the lowest flu incidence rate at 10%
- Quebec had the lowest vaccination rate at 27% and the highest flu incidence rate at 25%
Next season is a whole new game!
The World Health Organization has recently recommended two strain changes to the composition of the 2012-2013 seasonal influenza vaccine. These significant changes make it even more critical for patients to get vaccinated against the flu next season. Last year's vaccine will not protect against these two new strains.
"We are proud of our score," said Dr. Menn Biagtan, Program Manager, BC Lung Association. "But still, half of our population was not vaccinated last season. This poses a serious threat to more vulnerable populations who can experience serious consequences from the flu. And next season will likely be a whole new game."
The flu can be severe enough to prevent people from performing everyday tasks such as attending work or school, yet one of the main reasons cited for not getting vaccinated last season was because people did not have time. Ironically, many had to take time off because of the flu. The survey shows that 20% of Canadians missed work or school because of the flu and 14% took time off to take care of someone in their household with the flu, usually taking three or more days off.
Survey data also appears to suggest that an additional 9 million Canadians would be vaccinated if the flu shot came with a smaller, thinner needle or if the vaccination process were faster and easier. Almost half (48%) of Canadians surveyed said they would be more likely to get the flu shot if the process was faster and easier and 43% of Canadians surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to get the flu shot if it came with a smaller, thinner microneedle.
"Last year we hosted a vaccine clinic in downtown Montreal and we offered an intradermal vaccine with a smaller, thinner needle that comes pre-assembled, so the vaccination process was over in seconds," said Dominique Massie. "62% of people at our clinic preferred the experience with the smaller, thinner needle and about 80% of respondents gave the experience 10 out of 10."
About their failing grade Massie says, "We will beat BC next year and come in number one on the Flu Report Card and…on the ice!"
About the survey
The results of the survey completed in March 2012 are based on 1019 online interviews conducted nationally. The sample was generated by Ipsos-Reid's national online panel (Ipsos I-say Online Panel). With a sample size of 1019, the results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had all Canadians age 18 and over been polled. These data were weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data.
For more information :
Quebec Lung Association
5790, Pierre-de-Coubertin avenue
Canada, H1N 1R4