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N.B. should pay for new RSV vaccine for seniors: Liberals

By Brad Perry Oct 25, 2023 | 6:32 AM

The New Brunswick government is facing calls to fund a new RSV vaccine for seniors recently approved by Health Canada.

Liberal leader Susan Holt brought up the issue during question period in the legislature on Tuesday afternoon.

Holt said she has heard from several people who have had to pay nearly $300 in order to receive the vaccine.

“We can all agree that it costs New Brunswick more to provide care to a patient in the hospital for a day than the cost of this vaccine,” said Holt.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, will have affected most children by the time they turn two years old, according to Health Canada.

Although it usually causes mild illness, Health Canada said seniors and individuals who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk for developing more severe illness.

Holt said more than 1,500 New Brunswickers were diagnosed with the virus last year — and it is one of the main reasons why people end up in the hospital this time of year.

“The best form of health care is preventative. The best way to reduce the strain on our hospitals and ERs is to prevent people from showing up there in the first place,” she said.

Health Minister Bruce Fitch did not rule out covering the cost of the vaccine in the future.

Fitch said his department is awaiting advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization.

“We will take that, plus the advice of our chief medical officer, the staff at Public Health, the RHAs [regional health authorities], the doctors involved in triage in health care,” he said.

The minister noted that the province currently spends more than $20 million annually on immunization programs.