CEO, Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada
This month, students returned to the classroom following a school year that was anything but normal. While many parents are excited for their children to be back in class, they remain concerned that their child may get sick while in school.
For the past two years, COVID-19 has required the sustained attention of government and health care systems. This critical focus has created unintended consequences, including the inability to administer routine child and adult immunizations aimed at preventing viruses such as measles, hepatitis B, and HPV for students and shingles and pneumonia for adults and seniors, amongst others. This lapse in vaccines has the potential to result in a secondary, entirely avoidable public health crisis.
Throughout the pandemic, over one third of Canadian parents cancelled or postponed scheduled vaccinations for their children. Many school-based public health programs also faced delays or pauses due to limited public health capacity.
Fortunately, during the pandemic pharmacies across the country have proven that they have the expertise, capacity, and public confidence needed to safeguard our communities.
Last year, pharmacies across Canada administered a record 5.6 million flu shots and over 40 percent of COVID-19 vaccinations. This was done by offering Canadians access to care closer to home, with flexible appointment options and extended hours. Research shows that nearly 90 percent of Canada’s pharmacies routinely administer immunizations and 87 percent of Canadians would be comfortable receiving a vaccine in pharmacies.
Despite these facts, pharmacy’s ability to create capacity in public health and to support broader immunization efforts in Canada is under-utilized.
It’s critical that we act now to protect our children, seniors, and all Canadians from another potential public health crisis that can easily be avoided through routine vaccinations.
Pharmacies are ready to lead the way in these vital, ongoing vaccination efforts.
This article was supported by the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada.