National public health data finds vaccine rates for kids fall short

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OTTAWA — New data suggests vaccination rates among Canadian children are falling short.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says none of the country’s national vaccination goals were met in any of the age groups surveyed in 2017.

Dr. Theresa Tam says coverage must be improved to attain sufficient community immunity to prevent disease and outbreaks.

While at least 95 per cent of two-year-olds should ideally be covered, researchers found just 75.8 per cent received the multidose vaccine for diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus. Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island were the only provinces to cover more than 80 per cent, while Manitoba and Nunavut were below 70 per cent.

The study says 2.4 per cent of children at two years of age are estimated to be unvaccinated, with Atlantic Canada having the lowest unvaccinated rate at 1.3 per cent, while British Columbia had the highest at 3.9 per cent.

Among seven-year-olds, only girls vaccinated for rubella met the 95-per cent coverage goal at 95.8 per cent, versus 93.8 per cent for boys. That vaccine only requires one dose, compared to two doses for measles and mumps where the national rate was 87 per cent and 86.4 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, none of the three routine vaccines for adolescents met the national coverage goal of 90 per cent, although the Tdap booster came close at 89.3 per cent. Kids aged 14 and 17 get up to three routine vaccinations in school-based programs, depending on the jurisdiction, including for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV).