A national seniors’ organization wants to turn the Yukon government over its knee when it comes to its vaccine policies.
CanAge, Canada’s national seniors’ advocacy organization, has awarded the Yukon a “D” in its third annual report.
While it’s one of the higher grades among both territories and provinces alike, CanAge CEO Laura Tamblyn Watts said it’s not great.
“Many governments are still not making immunization, especially of vulnerable populations like seniors, a top priority,” she explained Monday.
She added, “We’ve just been through a pandemic. How are we still arguing about whether National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended vaccines get funded, or are made available easily?”
The organization noted Yukoners are fortunate to have access to best-in-class shingles and senior-specific flu vaccines covered by the province.
The news release accompanying the report states, “Yukon stands out as one of only four jurisdictions in Canada to publicly fund the shingles vaccine, meeting the overwhelming demand from seniors for these critical immunizations.”
The organization says, though, that despite the advice provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) more than six months ago, “the Yukon has not refreshed its supply or policies for pneumococcal vaccines.
“This oversight has resulted in a lower grade. The CanAge Vaccine Report Card noted that provinces and territories lost points for not moving to the new recommendations.”
The report adds the Yukon’s commitment to funding shingles vaccines is commendable, although it appears that these vaccines may only be available in pharmacies.
“While this distribution method likely reaches a broad audience, it may not fully meet the needs of seniors in long-term and congregate care settings and those living in the community who may require additional support or accommodation.
“Yukon is the only territory that has granted pharmacists the ability to administer vaccines.”
Tamblyn Watts explained, “We have three key vaccines which are critical to adult health, particularly for seniors, with a fourth (RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus) likely on the way.
“Vaccines only work if they are funded, easily accessible, and communicated with solid information by trusted sources.”
“The 2022-2023 Vaccine Report Card doesn’t just present numbers and grades, but reflects the quality of life and health security for our nation’s seniors,” CanAge said.
“Increased vaccinations equate to increased well-being and reduced health care costs, yet governments still are not funding and distributing NACI-recommended vaccines seriously enough.”
Tamblyn Watts encourages the continuation of the territory’s past efforts, stating, “Yukon's commitment to senior and adult health through accessible and funded vaccines has been commendable, and demonstrates the importance of public health initiatives in safeguarding the well-being of older adults.
“We hope that the territory will continue to advance their public health initiatives for newly released pneumonia, COVID, and RSV vaccines.”
The Star contacted the Department of Health and Social Services for comment on the report.
None was available Monday afternoon nor Tuesday morning.