B.C. Liberals call for immediate implementation of high-dose influenza vaccine for seniors

THE BC Liberals said that Wednesday’s announcement of a high-dose influenza vaccine for seniors needs to be implemented immediately, especially given the current pandemic situation, which has impacted long-term care (LTC) homes, seniors facilities and communities across the province.

“We have been calling on the NDP for action on a high-dose influenza vaccine for seniors for years,” said B.C. Liberal MLA Joan Isaacs. “We’re finally seeing some action on this important issue, even though I raised it over two years ago as something necessary for the health of our seniors. Now that the NDP has announced this, it’s time to see action in terms of getting people vaccinated, especially those in the most vulnerable populations.”

With the outbreak of COVID-19, seniors residing in LTC and assisted-living homes will be facing a war on two fronts, as flu season approaches. Seniors already experience 70 per cent of influenza-related hospitalization cases and without greater access to the high-dose influenza vaccine, which has four times the antigens of a standard-dose influenza vaccine, seniors’ vulnerability to influenza will be heightened, she noted.

“The tragic deaths we have seen in LTC homes across our province have shown us just how vulnerable and at-risk our seniors are and has shone a light on the need for more supports,” said Linda Reid, B.C. Liberal Critic for Seniors. “What we need is action now, so that seniors, their families and the people who care for them can be protected from what will no doubt be a flu season unlike no other.”

Isaacs introduced legislation in 2018 to utilize the high-dose influenza vaccine, and when it was ignored by the government, introduced it again in 2019 and 2020.