Isaacs reintroduces legislation to increase seniors’ access to influenza vaccine

VICTORIA (August 12, 2020) – Following a tragic number of deaths at long-term care (LTC) homes throughout the country due to COVID-19, Coquitlam-Burke Mountain MLA Joan Isaacs is reintroducing legislation ahead of the upcoming flu season that would provide access to the high-dose flu vaccine for seniors and eliminate the cost of those shots for seniors who currently pay for them out of pocket.

“Seniors have been the hardest hit by COVID-19, and as we approach flu season it’s frightening to remember that they also experience 70 per cent of influenza-related hospitalization cases,” said Isaacs. “Without greater access to the high-dose flu shot, many seniors will be facing a war on two fronts. If seniors are forced to keep paying such high prices for the extra protection these vaccines offer, we’ll continue to see alarming rates of influenza-related illnesses and deaths among seniors. This bill will ensure that vulnerable seniors will see less time in our hospitals and more time enjoying happier and healthier lives.”

The bill was first introduced by MLA Isaacs in October of 2018 and again in November of 2019 but John Horgan and the NDP government never called it before the legislature for debate. Since then, the federal government has moved the issue forward by introducing a program that would help supply influenza vaccines to seniors living in LTC homes in the for the 2020/21 flu season.

“COVID-19 showed us just how seriously at-risk seniors in LTC are and how we must do more to protect and support them. I was excited to see the federal government step up after John Horgan and the NDP have ignored the issue for years, but more still needs to be done at the provincial level,” added Isaacs. “This legislation is a helping-hand for seniors across the province. In the middle of this pandemic, it’s vital that the NDP call this bill for debate to ensure the health and wellbeing of seniors throughout the province as they prepare to face flu season and a possible second wave of COVID-19.”

2018 saw over 2,000 deaths from influenza in Canada alone. The high-dose flu shot has four times the antigens of a standard-dose influenza vaccine.

Attachment: High Dose Influenza Vaccine for Seniors Act, 2020

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