Roundtable Report Highlights Importance of Immunizing Canada’s Caregivers Against Influenza, Identifying Challenges and Opportunities to Protect This Critical Group

Experts agreed that caregivers are essential to the Canadian healthcare system and economy, yet their importance often goes underrecognized, even by caregivers themselves.

New York, NEW YORK (June 1, 2022)—The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today released a report summarizing key insights from an expert roundtable on vaccinating Canada’s caregivers against influenza. The roundtable, held virtually, brought together leading Canadian health policy experts, family caregivers, patient advocacy groups, aging experts, and other thought leaders to discuss challenges and strategies to reach this critically important yet hard-to-reach group.

Around 8 million Canadians provide care to a family member or friend, many of whom are medically vulnerable. At the same time, only 42% of Canadian adults received an influenza vaccine during the two seasons prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the full impact of influenza widely underrecognized. Research shows that a case of influenza leads to a tenfold increase in the risk of a first heart attack and an eightfold increase in stroke risk in the few days following an infection.

“Influenza can have a devastating impact,” explained Michael Hodin, CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging.Each year, influenza increases hospital admissions and overcrowds emergency departments, creating unsafe conditions and crippling the healthcare system, while leading to a cascade of decline in many previously healthy adults. Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective and accessible ways that caregivers can protect their own health as well as that of their loved one. Yet, too few Canadian adults, caregivers included, are immunizing themselves against influenza and other preventable diseases.”

Among the top insights uncovered at the roundtable were the centrality of caregivers to the health and wellbeing of families, to the efficient functioning of the Canadian healthcare system, and to the Canadian economy overall. At the same time, the importance of caregivers – and the risks posed to them by infectious diseases like influenza – has largely gone underrecognized across the system and even by caregivers themselves.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought both caregivers and vaccination to the forefront of national and global attention, yet, the expert discussion revealed, the pandemic has also made it more difficult to adequately support caregivers and identify them as partners in care.

Another important insight from the roundtable was a lack of self-recognition among many of Canada’s 8 million caregivers as “caregivers” and as individuals whose own health status is vital and vulnerable, nor awareness of what steps to take to protect their health.

In addition to a need for more nuanced and targeted communications, experts at the roundtable pointed to an opportunity now to bolster existing access points and create new ones, building on innovations and policy momentum from COVID-19 vaccination initiatives. “Access is key for vaccine coverage,” said Laura Tamblyn Watts, President and CEO of CanAge. “As we’ve seen during COVID-19, we need to make sure that people can get their flu vaccines not just in healthcare settings such as doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and long-term care, but also in workplaces and the communities. Our CanAge Vaccine Report shows clearly that access to flu vaccines depends on your province and in some cases, postal code.”

Experts at the GCOA roundtable called for three critical actions:

  • Collect evidence on the burden and cost of influenza on caregivers, the Canadian healthcare system and society and identify best practices that can reduce the burden.
  • Expand access to vaccines, including where vaccines can be administered and by whom, engaging employers in this effort.
  • Develop wide-reaching and targeted education materials in which caregivers can recognize themselves.

Latest Developments

We keep our members and partners in touch with the most recent updates and opinions in the worldwide dialogue on population longevity and related issues.

Brazil Must Fight Antibiotic Resistance

The threat posed by antimicrobial resistance is urgent and spares no country - including Brazil. According to The Lancet, 63 deaths per 100,000 are associated with AMR in Brazil and Paraguay, a rate that exceeds the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. AMR-associated deaths in Brazil are second only to cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

We Missed 100 Million Adult Vaccines – Here’s How We Get Back on Track

Like other pandemics throughout human history, COVID-19 has caused profound changes that are still rippling through our societies, even as people are understandably eager to move on. In fact, these impacts are all the more dangerous when they are largely ignored or effectively invisible. The decline in adult vaccination may be one of the most significant, as a new report finds that ~100 million doses were missed in 2021 and 2022 alone – reversing global progress towards widespread adult immunisation as a new standard of care in a world of more old than young.

New Analysis Shows Lost Ground on Adult Immunisation During the Pandemic with 100 Million Doses Potentially Missed

New data shared today by GSK, in collaboration with the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science and the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), estimate approximately 100 million fewer doses of some adult vaccines (excluding Covid-19 vaccines) were administered in 2021 and 2022 than anticipated, based on the global vaccination adoption trends observed from 2013 to 2020, compounding already low adoption rates pre-pandemic.

Going Beyond Applause: The Potential of Caregiving to Unlock Job Opportunities of the Future

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of caregivers – staff and family who provide care for older and dependent people to carry out activities such as eating or moving - catapulted to the front of our collective conscience. The daily applause for front-line care workers showed a high level of recognition for their incredible work and provided insight into how our health systems must change as our society ages. We need to continue to recognise caregivers as essential to our ageing society.

High-Level Forum on the Silver Economy 2023

Join us for the High-Level Forum on the Silver Economy 2023. Now in its fourth year, the Silver Economy Forum 2023, December 6 and 7, will explore aging at every stage of life, looking at the growing global Silver Economy through a multigenerational lens. Linking to the goals and aspirations of the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing, SEF 2023 will highlight key themes at the intersection of aging at every age, and the Silver Economy.

Global Coalition on Aging Workshop Calls on G7 Countries to Fund Pull Incentives to Spur Antibiotic Innovation

The Global Coalition on Aging, in partnership with JPMA, today announced the release of its workshop report on the AMR crisis facing G7 countries and the world, “The Value of Pull Incentives in Japan to Encourage Investment in Antibiotic Innovation to Solve the AMR Crisis.” If strong action is not taken to address AMR, we will lose the antibiotics we need to cure infections, which is likely to outpace cancer as a major cause of death, killing an estimated 10 million by 2050.