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Ontario Ranks Highest in Free Bird Flu Vaccination Rates

Following announcement of free flu shots in Ontario, flu vaccination rates have doubled to 60%, reveals two new studies// conducted recently.

Although bird flu vaccination rates have rose in other provinces as well, Ontario topped the list, surpassing all others. This is true even when factors such as age, gender and health status are taken into consideration. Ontario deserves credit implementing for universal flu shot program, the first ever, worldwide. The results of the twin studies are published in the Health Reports journal.

‘We saw a rise all across Canada, but Ontario's rise was higher. We can't say it was a causal relationship. But it happened at the same time and I don't know any other factors that would have caused a much higher increase in Ontario than other provinces,’ said Jeff Kwong, a scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, lead author of the first paper.

The research however does not point out to possible factors that can account for the remarkable increase. Perhaps the study authors believe that it could be due to free shots, availability of the same at workplace clinics and shopping malls, extensive advertisement campaigns for promotion of the service.

It was during the first bird flu season that free bird flu shots were announced in Ontario. During the same time, the rate of vaccination rose to 36% form 18%. When other states are taken into consideration, the rate soared from 12.7% to 21%.

‘Basically, it has had an effect. There's been a definite success from the point of view of the percentage of people who end up getting a flu shot,’ said Helen Johansen, a senior analyst with Statistics Canada and lead author of the second research.

However in reality, the actual bird flu vaccination rates in Ontario are much higher than what is projected from the study. A majority of the vaccination receivers are seniors, residing in long-term health care fac ilities. This however was not taken into consideration in both the health surveys.

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