On September 15, Ontario passed legislation making it the first province in Canada to provide the shingles vaccine free of charge to eligible seniors. The vaccine costs around $170 and is considered an optional vaccine by other provinces, which do not cover the cost of the vaccine.
The Ontario government is investing $68 million over three years in order to publicly fund the vaccine, which will reduce the likelihood of Ontario seniors developing the painful infection. This will in turn reduce visits to emergency rooms and hospitals.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, affects more than 42,000 people every year in Ontario. It can cause complications such as loss of vision and debilitating nerve pain. Studies show that the vaccine is highly effective when seniors are vaccinated between the ages of 65 and 70. This new program aligns with scientific and expert recommendations from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization and Ontario’s Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee on Immunization.
Those who are eligible for the shingles vaccine should contact their primary care doctor or nurse practitioner to receive the vaccination.
Expanding Ontario’s publicly funded immunization program is part of the government’s “Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care,” which is providing patients with faster access to the right care, better home and community care, the information they need to stay healthy and a health care system that’s sustainable for generations to come.