Join Insights West's Feedback Community to participate in meaningful research like this!Join


Three-in-four residents believe getting vaccinated helps to protect the vulnerable and is the responsible thing to do.

Vancouver, BC – In spite of misconceptions surrounding flu vaccinations, a new Insights West poll conducted on behalf of London Drugs has found that Western Canadians largely believe in the benefits of these vaccines with the majority of residents planning to get their shots this flu season.

In the online survey of a representative sample of 2,144 Western Canadians in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, three-in-five (59%) say they are likely to get the flu shot for the 2018/2019 season—a number that is consistent across all of these provinces—this includes nearly all of those (98%) who received last year’s vaccine. While this number seems promising, there is still a large proportion (37%) who aren’t planning on getting this year’s vaccine, which protects against influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and influenza B—viruses that are expected to be the most common this season.

While seven-in-ten Western Canadians (71%) report having gotten a flu shot in the past, the most common reason provided among those unlikely to get immunized this year, is the belief that the vaccine is ineffective (38%, a number that climbs to 45% in Saskatchewan). Other reasons include the belief that it is unnecessary because they are healthy (27%, including 35% of British Columbians), and concerns that it can have negative side effects (22%).

Despite these reasons, at least three-in-four Western Canadians agree that it is important to get the flu vaccination every year in order to help protect those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness (76%) and feel that getting the flu vaccination each year is a responsible way to take care of both your own health and the health of others around you (75%).

However, seven-in-ten residents (70%) also agree that the vaccination can have negative side effects. British Columbians are significantly less likely to believe this (60%) than their Western counterparts: Saskatchewan (68%), Manitoba (71%) and Alberta (71%).

More than a third of Western Canadians also believe that healthy people don’t need the flu vaccination (37%) and that you can catch the virus from it (36%). Those in Saskatchewan are more likely to agree that you can contract the flu from the vaccination (47%) than those in Manitoba (38%), Alberta (33%) and British Columbia (26%).

“What surprised me in the findings is the large number of misconceptions about the flu shot,” says Steve Mossop, President of Insights West. “Only just over half of us plan to protect ourselves against the flu by getting immunized despite the dangers associated with getting the flu; the number who feel it is ineffective or can cause side effects is far higher than it should be.”

“Most people do not have any reactions to the flu vaccine; those who do may have soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site,” says Gianni Del Negro, a Pharmacist at London Drugs. “Simply by getting a flu shot at our pharmacies you can make a global impact, providing life-saving vaccinations to children worldwide, while taking care of your own health needs and potentially saving the lives of people in your own community as well.”

Overall, Western Canadians are highly aware of several facts related to flu vaccinations. Almost nine-in-ten know that flu vaccinations are available free of charge for many Canadians (89%), are available at most pharmacies (88%) and that Health Canada recommends Canadians protect themselves from the flu by being vaccinated each year in the fall (also 88%). More than three-in-four are also aware that pharmacists can administer the flu vaccine (85%) and that the vaccine helps prevent hospitalizations and saves lives (78%).

However, many Western Canadians are unaware of how devastating the influenza virus can be. Only half (49%) knew that the flu causes approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.

Flu shots are widely available, by appointment or walk-in, across Canada. Western Canadians who are likely to get vaccinated this season are largely planning to get theirs at a pharmacy (41%), public flu clinic (16%), or doctor’s office (13%).

For every flu shot administered at London Drugs pharmacies this year, a lifesaving vaccine will be donated to UNICEF Canada to immunize children in another country. The vaccination donation campaign is in partnership with I Boost Immunity (IBI), an online immunization advocacy network.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About London Drugs

Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs has 81 stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba including its online store London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions. Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 7,500 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business. Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring company and continues to position itself for future growth and development.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from September 14 – 26, 2018, among a representative sample of 2,144 Western Canadian adults, who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 2.12 percentage points. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click here to view the detailed data tabulations.

For further information, please contact:

Steve Mossop
President, Insights West

London Drugs pharmacists are available to speak to the media about the seasonal flu shot, flu prevention and symptom treatment.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Angela Joyce, Media Relations