What do we really know about immunization in Canada? For many parts of the country, the answer is: very little. To celebrate this year’s National Immunization Week, we’ve assembled all publicly available childhood immunization data from across the country to get a national snapshot of coverage.
In this edition of Graphic Intelligence, you can explore coverage among two-year-olds and school-age children for the most common childhood vaccines.
Select an infection and an age group from the drop-down menus below. You can also hover over a province or health region for more details.
A.Jacobs, C.D. Howe Institute | Source: Various provincial reports.
Notes: Pertussis and varicella are more commonly known as whooping cough and chicken pox, respectively. ‘Hib’ refers to Haemophilus influenzae type b, ‘Pneumococcal’ to pneumococcal conjugate 13 valent, and ‘Meningococcal’ to meningococcal conjugate C.
Many provinces publish reports of immunization coverage, but as the map above shows, these are highly inconsistent. Provinces profile coverage at different ages, consolidated or broken down by vaccine and even by geographic region. For some parts of the country there are very rich data. For others, notably Nova Scotia and the territories, there is no available information at all.
The large, empty sections of the map above have an important consequence. It is not possible to construct credible estimates of national coverage from the data available from the provinces and territories, especially because the two largest provinces choose to monitor different age groups (school age in Ontario, age 2 in Quebec).
Nonetheless, it is clear that outside of the exemplary performance of Newfoundland and Labrador, most provinces fail to meet the 95 percent or higher national immunization target for many infectious diseases, especially among pre-school-age children. There is clearly room for improvement.
Aaron Jacobs is a Researcher at the C.D. Howe Institute.