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Canadian Paediatric Society

Immunization

Infectious diseases were once the leading cause of death in Canada. They now account for less than 5% of deaths, making immunization the most cost-effective public health measure of the last century. Today, universal coverage of paediatric vaccines offers all children and youth protection against many life-threatening diseases.

In addition to vaccines that have been part of the routine immunization schedule for a number of years, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommend that children and youth be vaccinated against rotavirus, varicella (chickenpox), pertussis (whooping cough), seasonal influenza, and meningococcal and pneumococcal infections. The CPS and NACI also recommend that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine be provided to girls at no charge. Provinces that have been proactive in adding the HPV vaccine for boys to their publicly funded schedules are to be commended.

Still, coverage of all routine vaccines is not yet universal across Canada. Not all provinces and territories offer the same vaccines to the same groups at no cost – schedules vary somewhat depending on where you live. A harmonized immunization schedule would be very beneficial, yet continues to be elusive.

Immunization registries help identify children who are (over)due for immunization, provide health care providers with a patient’s immunization status at each visit, inform public health campaigns, and help jurisdictions track immunization coverage. A patchwork of registries currently exists in Canada. About half of provinces and territories have an electronic immunization registry, while others use paper-based systems, a combination of the two, or simply do not have a registry in place. The CPS urges provinces and territories to work toward establishing electronic immunization registries and a universal schedule for administering vaccines.

Province/Territory2012 status2016 statusRecommended actionsComments
British Columbia

Excellent

Good

Implement a central immunization e-registry.

Alberta

Fair

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Saskatchewan

Good

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Manitoba

Fair

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Ontario

Excellent

Good

Implement a central immunization e-registry.

The CPS encourages Ontario to continue working on the full implementation of “Panorama”, so that patient records can be accessed and updated by primary care physicians.

Quebec

Good

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

New Brunswick

Good

Good

Implement a central immunization e-registry.

Vaccination records can be obtained from providers but are not housed in a centralized e-registry.

Nova Scotia

Fair

Fair

Implement a rotavirus immunization program. Implement a central immunization e-registry.

Vaccination records can be obtained from providers but are not housed in a centralized e-registry.

Prince Edward Island

Excellent

Good

Implement a central immunization e-registry.

There is a registry, but it can only be accessed by public health nurses and select personnel. 

Newfoundland and Labrador

Fair

Good

Implement a central immunization e-registry.

Immunization records can be obtained from regional health authorities, but there is no centralized e-registry.

Yukon

Fair

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Northwest Territories

Fair

Excellent

Meets all CPS recommendations.

Nunavut

Fair

Fair

Add a second dose of varicella vaccine.
Implement a central immunization e-registry.

Nunavut does not have a rotavirus immunization program in place. The CPS acknowledges that this decision is based on disease epidemiology and that surveillance is underway to detect cases and assess need.
 

Electronic medical records are being centralized gradually and are available in at least one community in each of the three regions.

Excellent

Province/territory provides meningococcal, adolescent pertussis, pneumococcal, varicella, rotavirus, influenza, and HPV vaccines according to the schedule recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, at no cost to individuals. Province/territory has a central immunization e-registry.

Good

Province/territory provides all of the recommended vaccines but does not have a central immunization e-registry.

Fair

Province/territory provides all but one of the recommended vaccines and does not have a central immunization e-registry.