August is National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an opportunity to promote the importance of immunizations throughout the lifespan and for a growing proportion of Canadian society that is especially important for seniors. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us all just how susceptible we can become to viruses as our powers of immunity start to wane. Canadian seniors were especially vulnerable to the novel coronavirus with a large proportion of illness and deaths occurring among elders, but with the introduction of vaccines the picture changed dramatically. As the virus evolved into more infectious forms like the Omicron variant, vaccine boosters and new vaccine formulations gave a much higher level of protection in saving thousands of lives.

Seniors are also more likely to suffer serious impacts from other respiratory viruses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and newer vaccines can now extend protection from these pathogens. The high dose flu vaccine is recommended for those over 65, as the higher level of antigen contained in this vaccine stimulates the immune system to a greater degree. This vaccine is paid for by the provincial government for anyone in long-term care and assisted living, while other seniors have to look to extended health coverage or pay out of their own pocket. B.C. is one of the few provinces that does not cover this vaccine for all seniors – something that should change. BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) and EngAge BC will add our voice to those recommending this to the province.

Until recently, no vaccine was available for RSV until this year with the USFDA approval a few months ago and Health Canada approval just last week. The RSV virus causes infections of the respiratory tract and can cause older adults to become severely ill and they may even end up in the hospital. Manufacturer GSK says that clinical trials showed it was 82 per cent effective at preventing lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in older adults. The effectiveness increased to 94 per cent in seniors with underlying medical conditions.

So while August is the time to be enjoying the great outdoors, it’s never too early to start planning for vaccinations this fall to give the very best protection against respiratory viruses.

More resources:


Get a COVID-19 Booster

SafeCare BC: Vaccinating for influenza

HealthLinkBC: Why Seniors Should Get in Inactivated (Flu) Vaccine


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