Why it’s important that people living with dementia get vaccinated
We know that age and underlying health conditions are both among the greatest factors associated with increased risk of complications from COVID-19.
We also know that most people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are more likely to have these risk factors:
- Age is the greatest risk factor for dementia. One in four Canadians above the age of 85 are living with dementia.
- Ninety per cent of Canadians living with dementia have at least one other chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart disease. As such, people living with dementia are more likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19.
- Recent mortality data from Statistics Canada shows that Alzheimer’s disease or dementia were listed on the death certificate of 42% of the women and 33% of the men in COVID-involved deaths.
Dementia also brings many changes in cognitive abilities, affecting a person’s memory, communication, orientation and other abilities. This makes it challenging for people living in the middle to late stages of dementia to follow pandemic safety measures such as lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing.
That’s why vaccination is so important – it’s one of the most effective ways to be protected against COVID-19, reducing its impact and preventing further spread.
When should you expect to get a vaccine?
Canada’s vaccine rollout is prioritizing people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, meaning people of advanced age and people who live with high-risk health conditions should receive vaccinations first. Here’s what we know right now:
The first groups to be vaccinated
If you’re living with dementia in long-term care, and/or you’re living with dementia and you’re over 80 years of age, and/or you’re living with dementia in an indigenous community, you should be among the first groups in Canada to be vaccinated.
If you’re living with dementia and are between the ages of 70 and 80, you should also be among the first groups to be vaccinated as more supply become available.
If you’re a caregiver working with people living with dementia in long-term care or retirement homes, you should also be among the first groups in Canada to be vaccinated.
If you’re a healthcare worker, such as a personal support worker, that works directly with patients including people living with dementia, you should also be among the first groups in Canada to be vaccinated.
For more information, read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s explanation on which groups are getting prioritized for vaccination first.
After the first groups are vaccinated
Due to the risk factors brought on by the disease, the Alzheimer Society of Canada strongly believes that all Canadians living with dementia must be vaccinated as soon as possible. This includes people with dementia who live independently in their community and not in long-term care or retirement homes.
At the moment, there are no specific details in Canada’s vaccine rollout in regards to the prioritization of people living with dementia in the community and family caregivers.
Local vaccination rollouts
When you get vaccinated also depends on your local vaccination rollout plan. Each province and territory has their own rollout plan for their residents. These links below can give you more specific information on COVID-19 vaccinations relevant to where you live in Canada:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
- Northwest Territories
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
What if the person living with dementia is unable to provide consent for the vaccine?
- Treat the decision to get the vaccine the same as you would other healthcare decisions
- Involve the person’s Power of Attorney or other appointed substitute decision-maker if the person is unable to provide consent
- Refer to our resources on Decision-making resource and Communication for more information.
Is it safe to visit a family member in long-term care if they have been vaccinated but you have not?
Speak to a healthcare provider and the staff at the long-term care home for more information. Staff at the home can provide you with information about visiting procedures and continued safety protocols.
More links and information
Vaccines and treatments for COVID-19: Vaccine rollout. The Government of Canada. On this page, get more information on the vaccine rollout in Canada, including details on which groups will get the information first. Users can also refer to the section “Groups that will get the vaccine first” to select your province and find more information on local vaccine rollout plans.
Preliminary guidance on key populations for early COVID-19 immunization. The Government of Canada. A more detailed explanation for the government’s decision-making process for vaccine prioritization, including recommendations for which key populations should receive vaccinations first.