CanAge is applauding a recent announcement made by the Government of Yukon that the best-in-class shingles
vaccine (Shingrix) is now available to all adults aged 65-79 in pharmacies. 

The previous age cutoff for the vaccine was 70, and options for where to get the required two doses were limited and unclear. This, according to a CanAge news release, left many older people in the territory vulnerable to shingles—a debilitating and painful virus that can lead to permanent nerve damage and loss of vision. 

The announcement follows a critical review of the territory’s adult immunization efforts by CanAge earlier this year, which placed Yukon among the worst performers across Canada in vaccinating seniors.

CanAge describes itself as Canada’s national seniors’ advocacy organization.

“By expanding coverage and access to the recommended shingles vaccine (Shingrix), the Government of Yukon has taken a major step toward keeping seniors in the territory safe from what can be a truly excruciating viral infection with life-long effects,” says Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. 

“Other parts of Canada need to step up and follow the strong example set by Yukon,” she said.

Earlier this year, CanAge released its “Adult Vaccination in Canada” report. In the report, CanAge assigned each province and territory a letter grade on how well they vaccinate older adults against common and preventable illnesses like seasonal flu, shingles and pneumonia. 

The Government of Yukon was given a failing overall grade of F due to significant gaps in vaccine coverage, limited access, and lack of clear information for the general public about where to get their shots.

Alberta scored a D-minus, which includes a C-minus for funding, an F for access, and a D-minus for awareness. Alberta does not fund the shingles vaccine. 

Tamblyn Watts said Yukon will get a better score in CanAge’s 2022 adult vaccination report. 

“While there are still important gaps to be filled in how the territory vaccinates older adults, we’re glad the Government of Yukon took to heart the recommendations we made earlier this year and are already taking steps to improve,” she said.