Although the Canadian government procures vaccines, each province and territory is responsible for administering them to the country’s vast and diverse population. This fragmented nature has resulted in uncoordinated and disconnected electronic medical records systems. Public health data is collected through 13 different jurisdictions with differing standards, processes, and databases proving difficult to compare and analyze.
Patients have reported barriers to booking vaccinations including mobility concerns and language issues in British Columbia, system errors in booking in Alberta and busy phone lines in Quebec. In Ontario, it was reported older adults had difficulty with navigating the vaccination registration websites and phone lines. In addition, people with disabilities, although prioritized for vaccination in Ontario, are reporting difficulty with accessibility.
To manage this fragmentation, a Pan-Canadian Network has been developed to track national vaccination rates. However, there is both a general and context-specific lack of research and information on the most effective ways to administer and book vaccinations to large populations to ensure high uptake. Although some effective strategies can be inferred from vaccination efforts to prevent influenza or other illnesses, it is difficult to transfer knowledge gained from previous vaccination strategies to the current COVID-19 pandemic environment.
At the national level
- Jurisdictions should report standardized data on their strategies to improve information about vaccine accessibility (communication, physical, and social/sensory) for all populations, especially vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, to help ensure that vaccines are accessible across Canada.
At the provincial and territorial level
- Ensure booking does not require nonessential documentation (e.g., proof of citizenship or health insurance) and offer vaccination options at trusted community sites that do not require pre-booking to allow for migrant workers, refugees, and other hard-to-reach or transient populations to equitably access.
- Consider primary care networks and pharmacies to administer vaccines in future pandemics or booster COVID-19 shots while utilizing a central booking system.
- Establish the necessary communications infrastructure to enable streamlined appointment and vaccination tracking.
- Vaccination booking should be centrally offered in all jurisdictions through multiple modes, including not only online and telephone systems, but also in-person options.
At the local and regional level
- Researchers should fill knowledge gaps through researching the effectiveness and equity of various vaccine booking and tracking strategies using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods.