Monitoring trends in coverage is important in order to identify the potential for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. When coverage rates drop in a population, the chances of a vaccine-preventable disease outbreak occurring in that population increase.
Coverage is assessed in order to:
- measure how many people are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases within the overall population
- identify populations (people living in certain communities) that have low vaccine coverage in order to explore reasons for low coverage
Monitoring also helps BCCDC in recommending where public health should allocate its resources, for example, where to improve access to immunization services or public education efforts.
In BC, immunization coverage is routinely measured for:
- children at the second birthday
- school-age children
- influenza-vaccine recipients
A routine immunization schedule is in place in the BC health care system. Through this schedule, infants and toddlers in BC are offered vaccines that protect against many different diseases.
Most infants and toddlers are immunized either by public health nurses at their local health unit or by their family physicians. Immunization records are kept for most children in in the province’s immunization registry, called Panorama. Panorama records are used to measure immunization coverage for children living in the Fraser, Interior, Vancouver Island and Northern health authorities. Immunization coverage is measured for two-year-olds living in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority by periodic surveys.