Lise Vaugeois, MLA for Thunder Bay—Superior North and spokesperson for the official opposition of the New Democratic Party and services to seniors, is calling for free Shingrix vaccine against shingles for people aged 70 and over.
For this vaccine to be covered by Ontario Health Insurance, you must be 65 to 70 years old and have never received a publicly funded shingles vaccine, it says on the website of the province.
My mother, aged 96, was not eligible for the vaccine, suffered from a severe case of shingles last year and has pain that continues today.
She says that citizens do not necessarily have the means to afford the shingles vaccine, which costs around $300.
This is confirmed by Arushan Arulnamby, an analyst at the National Institute on Aging who led the publication of the report entitled The neglected problem of shingles infections among older Canadians and what to do about it.
In Canada, the costs of the vaccine vary between $250 and $400, he specifies.
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In an ideal world, all adults aged 50 and over would receive the shingles vaccine free of charge, confirms Arushan Arulnamby.
Photo: Courtesy Arushan Arulnamby
He also claims to understand the proposal made by Ms. Vaugeois because of these very high costs..
Shingles is an infection that causes a painful, blistering rash and usually appears as a strip on the left or right side of the body. It results from the reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. The pain may persist for a month or more and be severe enough to interfere with daily functioning. The frequency and severity of cases and complications increase with age.
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that all Canadians aged 50 and over be vaccinated against shingles.
If you are too old, the vaccine is no longer covered and shingles is known to get worse with age.
The Minister of Health, Sylvia Jones, did not mention the shingles vaccine in her response to Ms. Vaugeois’ request in the chamber.
By email, the communications office of the Ministry of Health referred us to a document of its shingles vaccination program, without commenting on Ms. Vaugeois’ request.
However, regarding the price of the vaccine, the communications office specifies that the latter is set by the pharmacies.
Ontario, a pioneer
The picture of the situation in Canada is quite fragmented, explains Mr. Arulnamby.
Only Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Yukon provide partial coverage for the shingles vaccine.
In fact, Ontario was the first province to offer the shingles vaccine free of charge.
In Quebec, the shingles vaccine is covered by the Régie de l’assurance santé du Québec for people aged 80 and over as well as those aged 18 and over who are immunocompromised since May 1, 2023.
Yukon offers shingles vaccination to residents aged 65 to 79, Prince Edward Island covers citizens 60 and older, and Alberta only offers coverage for individuals 18 years of age. and more who have undergone organ transplantation.
Although Mr. Arulnamby concedes that the ideal would be for all provincial and territorial health insurance programs to offer the Shingrix vaccine to individuals aged 50 and over, he notes that the targeted approach adopted in Canada and the international aims for profitability.
We noticed that the most profitable age group is between 65 and 79 years old.
In a press release, Health Canada specifies that it is following an evaluation of the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, evidence and local information and data that the provinces and territories decide the best schedule for their region. .
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