As the vaccine is rolling out in phases, several provinces have updated eligibility criteria for vaccine prioritization.
While Parkinson’s may not broadly qualify for prioritization, we encourage members of our community to review the information on vaccine eligibility provided by their local public health unit/authority to determine if they qualify for prioritization based on their unique circumstances.
Specific commentary on priority groups follows.
Parkinson Canada is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of all people living with Parkinson’s. We continue to closely monitor information on the COVID-19 pandemic provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and other public health authorities.
What we know today is that the distribution of vaccines is rolling out across Canada in a phased approach that prioritizes access to the vaccine to certain populations. There are many reasons why a person living with Parkinson’s may have earlier access to the vaccine, but the diagnosis of Parkinson’s or any other health condition is not currently included in the rollout plan for priority access to the vaccine.
Since the priority groups were first announced, we have worked hard to understand the overall strategy for the vaccine and where Parkinson’s fits in to this roll out strategy. We continue to consult with movement disorder specialists and other providers as information evolves and we seek to put the health of Canadians with Parkinson’s first.
At this time, many of the people with Parkinson’s most at risk for severe illness will qualify for earlier access to the vaccine based on the existing criteria for Canada, which is:
- Residents and staff of shared living settings that provide care for seniors.
- Adults 70 years of age and older, beginning with adults 80 years of age and older, and then decreasing the age limit by 5-year increments to age 70 years as supply becomes available.
- Health care workers who have direct contact with patients, including those who work in health care settings and personal support workers.
- Adults in Indigenous communities.
As additional COVID-19 vaccines and supplies become available, the following populations should then be offered vaccinations:
- Health care workers not included in the initial rollout
- Residents and staff of all other shared living settings, such as homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and housing for migrant workers
- Essential workers who face additional risks to maintain services for the functioning of society
This resource will provide you with more information on the vaccine roll out plan for Canada and has a tool to easily search for information specific to your province or territory: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/covid-19-vaccine-treatment/vaccine-rollout.html
See more resources for COVID-19 for people living with Parkinson’s and care partners.
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and Parkinson’s
There is no evidence to suggest that any COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe or ineffective in people with Parkinson’s. The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society have encouraged community of health specialists to recommend COVID-19 vaccination to patients with Parkinson’s (or their responsible caregivers) unless there is a specific reason that precludes administration.
They also recommend that patients come forward to seek the vaccine as quickly as it is available. The recommendation is given because benefits and risks are not different than in the general (age-matched) population and because we want our patients to be protected against the disease and its consequences.
- Their jobs or occupations require them to be in contact with large numbers of people, which increases their chances of being exposed to someone who has COVID-19
- They live in group settings where the COVID-19 virus may transmit more easily (for example, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, shelters, or group residences)
- They face barriers that limit their ability to access or implement effective public health measures (for example, individuals with disabilities who encounter non-accessible information, services and/or facilities)
For example, anyone who has:
- difficulty reading, speaking, understanding or communicating
- difficulty accessing medical care or health advice
- difficulty doing preventive activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes
- ongoing specialized medical care or needs specific medical supplies
- ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence
- difficulty accessing transportation
- economic barriers
- unstable employment or inflexible working conditions
- social or geographic isolation, like in remote and isolated communities
- insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions
Parkinson Canada urges all Canadians to continue following public health guidelines to stay safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks/measures-reduce-community.html#s
- Older adults (increasing risk with each decade, especially over 60 years).
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions including:
- lung disease
- heart disease
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- People of any age who are immunocompromised, including those:
- with an underlying medical condition (e.g., cancer)
- taking medications that lower the immune system (e.g., chemotherapy)
- People living with obesity (BMI of 40 or higher).
In one small study, it was found that in addition to age, advanced Parkinson’s disease also contributed to more severe illness.
For more information on conditions that that have a greater risk of more severe illness from COVID-19, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/people-high-risk-for-severe-illness-covid-19.html