Many Canadian Adults Acknowledge the Importance of Immunization Yet Are Not Getting Vaccinated

Survey finds that although 82% of Canadian adults agree that staying up to date with vaccinations is important, one in four (27%) admit it isn’t a priority to them.

While most Canadian adults recognize the importance of vaccinations, when it comes to their own health, not everyone is vigilant in seeking to protect themselves against vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, according to a recent Ipsos survey commissioned by GSK, while the majority (82%) of Canadian adults agree that staying up to date with vaccinations appropriate for them is important, more than one in four (27%) say doing so simply isn’t a priority.1

“Given the many competing health priorities to cover during healthcare visits, it’s essential for Canadians to not lose sight of the importance of immunization throughout life,” said Dr. Alex Romanovschi, Country Medical Director, GSK Canada. “Like regular exercise and a healthy diet, vaccines are an important tool to consider when thinking about overall health and wellness.”  

Vaccines Are Not Something You Outgrow

Immunization is often top of mind for new and expecting parents as vaccination in childhood has become well engrained in society today. In Canada, children are vaccinated early at various stages and often vaccines need to be given as a series of doses.2

According to the survey, slightly more than six in ten (63%) Canadian adults describe themselves as knowledgeable about childhood vaccinations.

Adult Vaccination Knowledge and Views

For adults, keeping up to date on recommended vaccines into adulthood is also important. As we age, our immune system gradually weakens and becomes less effective at protecting us from disease, increasing the chances of catching infections.

Despite 93% of Canadian parents agreeing that they have a responsibility to their family to ensure they take care of their own health, roughly half (52%) feel that keeping up to date on adult vaccinations is less important than making sure their child or children are up to date on recommended childhood immunizations.1

“It’s important to know that some vaccines you receive as a child can wear-off over time and teenagers and adults may need to receive a booster vaccination,” noted Dr. Romanovschi. “Further, in some cases there are diseases that most commonly occur at an older age that some people may not realize could potentially be prevented by vaccination.”

Learn About Which Vaccines May be Right for You

It can be difficult to know which vaccines may be important for you and at what age. Some vaccines are publicly funded while others may need to be purchased, with each province varying. According to the survey, Canadians are less aware of which vaccines they may need beyond those provided through public immunization programs, with just over half (56%) believing that all vaccines that are important for them are provided for free through their province’s public health programs.1

Healthcare providers have an important role to play in helping Canadian adults prioritize their own health as more than eight in ten Canadians (84%) say they would turn to their doctor or primary care provider for advice on vaccinations in adulthood. However, in the past 12 months, only three in ten (29%) have asked their doctor or another healthcare professional for advice on adult vaccines.

“By better understanding the importance of immunization throughout life, Canadians can then consider making it a priority to discuss with their healthcare providers which vaccines may be right for them at what age,” said Dr. Romanovschi.

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted between March 4 and March 7, 2019, on behalf of GSK. For this survey, a random sample of 1,802 Canadians aged 18+ were interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online surveys is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the survey is accurate to within ±2.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. We are the global leader in vaccines – developing, producing and distributing a broad portfolio of paediatric, adolescent, adult and travel vaccines. For further information, please visit www.ca.gsk.com.

GSK Canada enquiries:

Corporate Communications        +1 905-819-3363 (Mississauga)
                                                    +1 450-680-4812 (Laval)



[1] Ipsos LP. Vaccinate for Life Survey.

[2] Government of Canada. Vaccine Uptake in Canadian Children. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/health/publications/vaccines-immunization/vaccine-uptake-canadian-children-preliminary-results-2017-childhood-national-immunization-coverage-survey.html