Highlights from the 2021–2022 Seasonal Influenza (Flu) Vaccination Coverage Survey

The Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Coverage Survey is conducted every year to collect information on influenza vaccine uptake in Canada. Survey data are used to estimate the percentage of people vaccinated against flu and to describe knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about the flu vaccine and vaccines in general. With the current pandemic context, questions about COVID-19 vaccination were also added to the survey. Data collection took place between January 4 and February 11, 2022.

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Purpose of this survey

The survey results provide necessary information about how well Canadian adults are protected against flu, as well as what they know and think about this vaccine and vaccination in general.

Survey results are used to:

Key results

Influenza vaccine

The flu season in Canada normally runs from November to April. Anyone can get the flu, which can sometimes lead to severe complications or death. Some people are at higher risk for complications due to the flu, including:

The influenza vaccine, also known as the flu shot, is the best way to prevent the disease. Every Canadian 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot every year. Getting the flu shot early in the flu season (by the end of October) helps protect from infection before the flu begins to spread.

Figure 1 - Seasonal flu vaccination coverage, 2019-2020 to 2021-2022 flu seasons
Figure 1. Text version below
Figure 1 - Text description
Seasonal flu vaccination coverage (percent vaccinated)
Flu season All adults (18+) People aged 18-64 without chronic medical conditions People aged 18-64 with chronic medical conditions Seniors (65+)
2019-2020 41.8 30.0 43.6 70.3
2020-2021 40.4 29.2 40.5 70.4
2021-2022 38.7 26.8 37.6 71.0

Overall, influenza vaccination coverage among all adults (39%) was similar to the previous flu season (40%).

Canada's goal is to have 80% of those at higher risk of complications from the flu vaccinated. This includes seniors (65 years of age and older) and adults aged 18-64 years with chronic medical conditions.

In the 2021-2022 flu season:

Timing and place of vaccination

Reasons to get, or not get the flu shot

Impact of COVID-19 on getting the flu shot

COVID-19 vaccines

Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs

Most adults (94%) reported that they considered vaccines to be important for their health and knew enough about vaccines to make informed decisions about getting vaccinated.

The majority of the population (71%) agreed that the opinion of their family doctor, general practitioner or nurse practitioner is an important part of their decision for getting the flu shot.

While most people believed that the flu shot is safe (92%), there were still 38% of respondents who mistakenly believed they might get the flu from the flu vaccine, which is not true for any flu shot. Moreover, 35% felt that the flu vaccine does not protect them against getting the flu.

In addition, more than half of the population believed that it is good for children (60%) or adults (55%) to get natural immunity against the flu by being exposed to the virus.

To summarize

Overall, flu vaccination coverage among all adults aged 18 years and older for the 2021-2022 flu season (39%) has not changed significantly from previous years. The national flu vaccination coverage goal of 80% for those at higher risk remains unmet. Despite a higher flu shot uptake among seniors (71%), little improvement has been achieved in recent years.

The most important reason for getting the flu shot was to prevent infection or avoid getting sick, whereas the most common reason for not getting the flu shot was the perception that healthy people don't need to worry about the flu.

Although 31% of Canadians reported having encountered difficulties in scheduling an appointment for getting the flu shot this year, the COVID-19 pandemic did not seem to have a significant impact on flu shot uptake this year.

In addition, 94% of Canadian adults reported having received a COVID-19 vaccine at the time of the survey. Among them, only 47% had received a booster dose. The main reason for not getting a booster dose was the perception of being fully protected with primary series.

A full report of the survey results is available.

For more information about the Seasonal Influenza Coverage Survey, please contact us at coverage-couvertures@phac-aspc.gc.ca.

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