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May 21
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Saskatoon – The second in a series of Better Health for All online reports released today by Saskatoon Health Region looks at the extent to which various segments of the population have been immunized against influenza, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunization coverage rates are one measure of population health.

Vaccine-preventable diseases can cause illness that lasts for weeks, months or years and even lead to death. In Saskatchewan immunization for 15 vaccine-preventable diseases is free and widely available.  However, factors such as education, family support, competing priorities and objections to vaccination influence immunization coverage rates.

“We’re pleased to report that immunization rates have risen since 2007,” says Deputy Medical Health Officer Dr.  Shovita Padhi.  “But, because lower rates of immunization in certain population segments and neighbourhoods can impact the health of the entire population, we’re working hard to narrow the gap in coverage rates between the most and least affluent neighbourhoods and focusing on vulnerable members of our population.”

As one example, the successful ‘Done by Two’ initiative endeavors to have a child’s immunizations up-to-date by the time they are two-years-old, so they have protection for their most vulnerable early preschool year. Through automated voice message reminders to every parent, drop-in clinics, as well as personal phone calls and home visits in areas with low coverage, the program is seeing results. The data shows immunization rates for two-year-old children have been on the rise since 2007.

Other significant findings in the report include:
  • Immunization coverage rates for children at school entry were high in 2013 with 92.6 per cent of children up-to-date for measles vaccine and 80.3 per cent up-to-date for pertussis vaccine.
  • In 2013, 75.8 per cent of 13-year-old females received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine compared to 63.3 per cent in 2010.
  • Coverage for pneumococcal disease and influenza is decreasing in older adults and medically-at-risk adults (those with medical conditions that put them at risk of complications of disease). Among seniors aged 65 years and older 50.5 per cent percent were immunized against influenza in 2013-14 compared to 57.2 per cent in 2009-10. Further, 59.8 per cent percent of adults at medical risk, ages 18 to 64, have not been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.
  • Influenza immunization coverage rates for Saskatoon Health Region staff is 67.7 per cent compared to 65.4 per cent five years ago.
“Ideally everyone in our community should be protected from vaccine-preventable disease, so while we’ve come a long way, we still have work to do,” says Dr. Padhi.

Padhi notes the Region will:
  • expand the ‘Done by Two’ initiative
  • explore new approaches to improving influenza and pneumococcal coverage rates for persons over 65 and medically at-risk with a focus on the most vulnerable populations
  • explore new approaches to improve influenza immunization coverage rates for Saskatoon Health Region staff
  • strengthen partnerships with other immunization providers to provide greater access to immunization services and credible information about vaccines
The findings are summarized on In the coming months, Saskatoon Health Region will release additional online reports showing how the health-care system can contribute to better health for everyone as well as more detailed information on the Region’s health status and wellbeing.

NOTE: On behalf of Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Cory Neudorf, Deputy Medical Health Officer Dr. Shovita Padhi will be available for comment following the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority public meeting. The meeting takes place Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 1:00 to 3:20 p.m., Saskatoon City Hospital Boardroom, 2nd Floor Administration, Saskatoon.

Background: Vaccine-Preventable Disease

Download the report


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