Ontario's decision to make the influenza vaccine available at no charge to all its citizens for this year's flu season has sparked debate in the public health community. In the "Controversy" section of this issue of CMAJ, Drs. Richard Schabas and Vittorio Demicheli debate the relative merits of the program and whether it should serve as a model for other areas. "At best, this strategy will be a major advance in influenza control," Schabas concludes. "At worst, it will reduce the burden of influenza but will not be efficient, at which point it can be modified appropriately. I like those options."
Demicheli argues that given the cost of the Ontario program ($38 million) and the quality of information available, it is unlikely universal vaccination will be introduced elsewhere. "As clearly stated by the Ontario government, the aim is to ease pressure on emergency services during the influenza season. There is absolutely no evidence that universal vaccination has ever achieved such a goal."
Mass flu vaccination in Ontario: a sensible move
-- Richard Schabas
Mass flu vaccination in Ontario: Is it worthwhile?
-- V. Demicheli (email-- email@example.com)