The Canadian Association of Retired Persons, which has a membership of more than 3,000 seniors in Surrey/White Rock and 20,000 province-wide, is lobbying the provincial government to provide free shingles vaccines and high-dose flu vaccines to seniors.
CARP sent a letter to Premier David Eby and Health Minister Adrian Dix on Wednesday toward that end. Ramona Kaptyn, a Surrey resident and CARP BC’s chief advocacy and communications officer, noted such vaccines are free in other provinces.
In B.C. shingles vaccines cost anywhere from $160 to $210, she said. “It varies from pharmacy to pharmacy, I don’t think it’s an absolute set rate. I paid $210 for mine.” The cost of a high-dose flu vaccine, she added, also varies. “You don’t know, because every pharmacy charges something different.”
This cost, Kaptyn noted, can pose a problem for seniors living on low and fixed incomes.
“The fact of the matter is vaccinations, a lot of people don’t believe in them, but heaven forbid. I had whooping cough, I had measles, I had everything as a kid, it practically killed me,” Kaptyn recalled. “Today, we are vaccinated. Remember polio? Yet people today are carrying on like ‘Oh no, they’re trying to microchip you.’ Now, a vaccination will keep you from getting terribly ill and dying so why should seniors have to pay for things that are going to prevent them from being hospitalized and being a bigger burden on the health care system? By giving a senior a vaccine you’re going to keep them out of emergency possibly and you’re going to keep them out of hospital and what a big savings that would be to our health care system, because right now we’re in crisis.”
While B.C.’s next provincial election is set for Oct. 19, 2024, Kaptyn wonders if it will be called sooner because Eby’s office responded to CARP’s letter on the same day it was sent.
“Eby replied the same day. That has never happened in my whole life time,” Kaptyn said.
“We see that you have provided a copy of your message to the Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, for his review and consideration,” the Office of the Premier replied. “On your behalf, we have also been in contact with the Ministry of Health and have requested that they follow up with you directly regarding this matter. Please be assured that the appropriate ministry official will respond to your letter at their earliest opportunity.”
Kaptyn has fingers crossed for success.
“We are hopeful because in other provinces it’s just automatic,” she told the Now-Leader on Thursday.