Cape Breton senior calls on N.S. government to fund high-dose flu shot
Richard Globe says paying more than $80 for a more effective vaccine is simply out of reach for most seniors
A Cape Breton man says the Nova Scotia government should provide seniors with the high-dose flu shot at no charge.
The regular vaccine is free for everyone over six months old, but Richard Globe says he was surprised at the cost of the shot that is recommended for those over 65.
"They want everybody to have the flu shot so everybody doesn't end up in the hospital sick, and yet they want the seniors to pay for their high-dose vaccine. It's not right," the 68-year-old said.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization says seniors should get the high-dose vaccine because it is more effective for them.
Nova Scotia should heed that advice, Globe said.
He booked a flu shot appointment and when he arrived, found out there is a high-dose version.
Cost 'out of reach for most seniors'
Globe said he was surprised there was a charge and even more surprised at the cost.
"I thought maybe $10 or $15, but over $80, that's out of reach for most seniors," he said.
Globe took the regular dose, but wasn't happy about it.
Both the NDP and Liberal opposition parties have been urging the Progressive Conservatives to cover the extra cost for seniors, but so far the government has refused to budge.
Most other provinces are making the high-dose vaccine available to everyone over 65.
In an emailed statement, Nova Scotia Health and Wellness says the high-dose shot is covered for seniors living in long-term care facilities.
The department says they are the "highest-risk patients in the highest-risk environments."
It says for everyone else, the regular flu shot "is still effective at preventing severe illness and hospitalization."
But Globe questioned that rationale.
"Why do they have the high dose if they're saying the regular dose is good enough?" he said.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, has said the high-dose vaccine is more effective than the standard dose, but the version that is covered by the province at no charge to patients should be a good match for the strain of flu in the province now.
Globe wasn't buying that.
"The premier and Dr. Strang, there's no excuses. Fund the high-dose vaccine for the seniors," he said.
"It's not going to cost a whole lot more to fund it, because the seniors are only about 20 per cent of the population.
"It looks terrible to me. It looks like a little bit of discrimination to me, picking on the seniors."
The flu season has started earlier than usual and has been declared an epidemic for the past month.
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society's IMPACT network, the most recent statistics from Nov. 19 show a "sharp increase" in influenza-related hospitalizations among children.
At that same time, the IWK health centre's pediatric care unit was reportedly running at well over 100 per cent capacity due to a surge in respiratory illnesses and an early start to the flu season.
Those looking to book a flu shot can do so by calling or registering online.
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