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Canadian Community Health Survey: Combined data, 2015/2016

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Released: 2017-11-07

Flu shots: Canadian Community Health Survey: 2015/2016

According to data from the 2015/2016 Canadian Community Health Survey, the majority of Canadians (58.8%) aged 12 and older had received a flu shot at some point in their lives, while almost one-third (32.4%) had gotten a flu shot in the previous 12 months. Overall, females (35.6%) were more likely than males (29.2%) to have had a flu shot in the previous 12 months.

The influenza virus, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory infection that can cause mild to severe symptoms. The flu is particularly dangerous to high-risk individuals such as pregnant women, the very young and old, as well as those with weak or compromised immune systems. The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that the flu causes about 3,500 deaths each year in Canada.

Canadians aged 65 or older were nearly twice as likely to have received a flu shot in the past year, compared with any other age group (60.8% for seniors, compared with less than 36% for all other age groups). Young adults aged 18 to 34 were least likely to have received the flu shot (19.6%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Proportion of Canadians who received a flu vaccination in previous 12 months, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2015/2016
Proportion of Canadians who received a flu vaccination in previous 12 months, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2015/2016

Canadians who lacked access to a regular health care provider were much less likely to have received a flu shot in the past year (15.8% among those without a primary health care provider, compared with 35.8% among those who did have one). The likelihood of having had a flu shot also increased as Canadians' overall health status decreased. The flu vaccination was most commonly received by Canadians who reported that their overall health was 'poor' (48.5%). Among those who said their health was 'excellent', 27.9% got a flu shot in the past year.

The most common reason given by Canadians for not getting a flu shot was that they did not think it was necessary (58.4%). The next most common reason was that they were unsure of or did not believe in the benefits of flu vaccination (14.5%). Another 9.6% cited that they simply did not have the time to get vaccinated.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Reason for not receiving a flu vaccination in previous 12 months, by sex, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2015/2016
Reason for not receiving a flu vaccination in previous 12 months, by sex, household population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2015/2016

In 2015/2016, the rate of flu vaccination was lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador (28.5%) and in Quebec (24.4%). Residents of these provinces were more likely to report that they did not feel the flu shot was necessary (62.7% in Newfoundland and Labrador, and 65.4% in Quebec). Influenza vaccination was highest in Nova Scotia in 2015/2016, where 48.5% had gotten a flu shot in the past year.

  Note to readers

This article features analysis based on data from the combined 2015/2016 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). The CCHS is an annual population health survey that provides insight into the health conditions and behaviours of the Canadian population. The estimate of deaths associated with the influenza virus comes from the Public Health Agency of Canada and can be consulted on the Risks of flu (influenza) page on its website.

Residents of Indian reserves are excluded from the survey's coverage, therefore the numbers reflect First Nations people living off reserve, Métis and Inuit. Other exclusions are health care institutions, some remote areas, and full-time members of the Canadian Forces (living on or off military bases).

The CCHS produces an annual microdata file and a second microdata file combining two years of data, every second year. The combined data are the same as the two individual annual data files, but also contain data for Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. The two-year data can be used to disaggregate estimates to represent smaller populations and rare characteristics. The annual data for 2016 were released in The Daily on September 27, 2017.

In this article, when two estimates are said to be different, this indicates that the difference was statistically significant at a 95% confidence level (p-value less than 5%).

Regional differences in flu vaccination rates may be attributable to differences in provincial and territorial public health awareness campaigns surrounding flu vaccination. Regulations about pharmacists' ability to administer flu shots, as well as universal coverage of the shot, also vary by province, which may influence the vaccination rates by province.


For more statistics and analysis on the health of Canadians and the health care system, visit the Health in Canada module on the home page of our webiste under Features.

Additional products featuring the most recent results from the 2015/2016 Canadian Community Health Survey combined data are now available on our website. This includes the Health Fact Sheets (Catalogue number82-625-X): "Quick facts by census metropolitan area, 2015-2016," which features a selection of health indicators for the 34 census metropolitan areas in Canada.

You can also consult the publication Health Indicators (Catalogue number82-221-X), which has been updated.

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