Vaccines in Canada
Immunization is a cornerstone of Canada’s health system preventing millions of cases of infectious disease.
Vaccines will help prevent more recent health threats such as SARS, West Nile Virus, avian influenza, changing strains of the influenza virus and possibly other illnesses such as diabetes, and cancer.
Vaccines save Lives
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
- Today, more than 25 infectious diseases are vaccine-preventable.
- Vaccines are inexpensive compared to the long-term care required for disease treatment and remain the most cost-effective health intervention available.
- Canadian spending on vaccines accounts for less than 0.17% of the annual health care budget (PHAC, 2007 & CIHI, 2006).
- Public funding is the most important factor in achieving high immunization rates. Every dollar spent on vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella saves nearly three times as much in health care dollars. In Canada, vaccination against these diseases saves $88 million in treatment costs per year and over 420,000 lives annually.
- The benefits of vaccination often also extend from the individual to the overall population. F or example, complete courses of vaccination for infants against invasive pneumococcal infection have helped decrease the incidence in adults 65 years or older by 75.1% (Kellner et al., 2006).
Vaccine regulation in Canada
Vaccines are a highly regulated disease prevention tool.
- Vaccines in Canada go through multiple controls to ensure product safety. Health Canada is responsible for maximizing the safety, efficacy and quality of drugs, including vaccines, for human use. In addition to manufacturers’ quality assurance programs, Health Canada’s continuous quality surveillance throughout the vaccine’s journey to the patient guarantees safety is maintained.
- Each vaccine must be approved by Health Canada, which involves reviews of product scientific data, production site evaluations, independent vaccine sample testing, and once the vaccine is approved, testing of vaccine batches prior to their release for use.
Who Needs Vaccines?
It’s not just your health: The importance of preventing the flu
Each year, millions fall ill with influenza, a respiratory disease characterized by high fever and severe aches. The flu spreads easily and serious complications can result, even in healthy individuals. The flu shot can help reduce the risk of contracting influenza and can help reduce the seriousness of the disease should infection occur. Immunization is the best way to prevent the spread of flu to those who may be at a higher risk of developing serious complications. Vaccination can also save the time, money and productivity lost through illness. While it is an individual’s choice to get a flu shot, the benefits of protection are worth the small amount of time it takes to get immunized.
Future of vaccines in Canada
Canadian innovation is driving the discovery of new vaccines that will transform the future of public health in Canada. Across the industry, the research pipeline is bulging. Vaccines that target cervical cancer caused by HPV and gastroenteritis due to rotavirus are examples of some of the newer products that are changing the health of Canadians. Continued future investment in Canadian innovation will lead to progress in the development of new vaccines against major diseases such as HIV and malaria, as well as treatments for cancer and other degenerative diseases.