Population Health

Improving vaccine equity in Canada

Image of a woman hugging a childVaccinations are routinely lauded as one of the top public health interventions, but benefits of immunization remain unequally distributed. While there is great variation across and within Canadian provinces in terms of immunization rates, visible minority and aboriginal communities are generally vaccinated at lower rates than those of their white counterparts. Immunization rates are impacted by a number of factors, including accessibility, vaccine hesitancy and socioeconomic standing – which, like race and ethnicity – contribute to disparities in immunization that ultimately reproduce systemic inequities.

To better understand this issue, the University of Washington Population Health Initiative is leading a mixed methods study to track trends in Canadian immunization rates over the last decade. The project team will compare key observations from the Canadian context with those from our parallel study of vaccine equity in the U.S. to identify how racial inequity presents differently in the context of a nationalized healthcare system versus a more fragmented one.

Key research objectives are:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive review of literature, reports, policy and available datasets in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec over the last decade to better understand the current state of vaccination rates among racial minorities in Canada.
  2. Undertake qualitative analysis with diverse stakeholders to identify which programs, policies or practices have most significantly impacted racial immunization equity, and what key factors or considerations contributed to the success or failure of specific interventions.
  3. Compare data with findings from the United States to refine recommendations and produce outputs with broad, multinational relevance.

We believe research outcomes will support more informed and targeted immunization equity strategies in both the U.S. and Canada.

The project team includes faculty and staff from the UW School of Medicine, College of Arts & Sciences and the Population Health Initiative.

Funding Acknowledgement

This study is funded by a research grant from the Investigator-Initiated Studies Program of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp (MISP Reference Number 101152).