Anna Sangster graduated from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health with a Master’s in Public Health specializing in Behavioural Health Sciences and Addiction Studies. Anna also hold an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto where she double majored in Biological Anthropology and Psychology. It was during her undergraduate degree that Anna’s interest and passion in the social determinants of health and health equity became a driving force for her future academic and career aspirations.
Through her placements at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH) and previous work experience with a local non-profit, Anna has been able to further cultivate her interest in social justice as well skills in project development, research and stakeholder engagement. Anna’s work has allowed her to participate in innovative projects where co-production and co-creation, with both youth and individuals with lived experience of substance use and mental illness, were foundational.
These professional experiences as well as her academic background solidified her dedication to the exploration of the social determinants of health and her desire to uphold the principles of diversity and inclusion. Anna is thrilled to be working with an organization which is proactive in their advocacy efforts and looks forward to the opportunity to leverage her diverse skill set and work collaboratively to improve the lives of older persons around the world.
Prevention, access and equity: Pillars for action to improve adult vaccination rates
Anais is a recent graduate from the University of Manchester’s Master of Arts program in International Politics and holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Toronto. Anais is particularly interested in the social determinants of health, health inequities, and the role of global governance in how health is perceived globally.
Anais has been involved with research projects that examine gender inequality in the developing world, inequitable health access and the role of the United Nations in global governance. These interests were both a result of her educational background and lived experiences in the developing world. Anais is excited to continue her work and interest in international development and health inequalities within in the realm of public health working for the IFA.
In her free time, Anais has volunteered with different non-profits aimed at improving the standard of living for refugees in Canada and abroad, which led to a volunteer role at a refugee camp in Athens, Greece in 2018. She also enjoys going on walks and hikes with her dog Olive.
Petek has worked in diverse government, nonprofit and private sectors on a variety of issues including human rights, community capacity building, developmental disabilities, violence, complex health needs, food insecurity and poverty.
Petek holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Criminology and Human Rights & Human Diversity from Wilfrid Laurier University.
Petek obtained her Master of Public Policy in Spring 2020 from the University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. During her studies at Munk, she was selected to receive a summer internship with the Ontario Government through the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, where she was able to lead independent research on how different sectors impact the wellbeing of marginalized populations and assist in the creation and evaluation of evidence-informed decision making for major policy transformations for gender-based violence and developmental disability services.
Petek is passionate about social justice issues, and strengthening equality and inclusion for marginalized populations like older persons.
Anna Sangster, International Federation on Ageing, Canada
Anais Diaz, International Federation on Ageing, Canada
Petek Yurt, International Federation on Ageing, Canada
Vaccination represents one of the most effective public health interventions of our time and yet despite this fact, vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) are responsible for a significant portion of mortality across the life course in low-income countries as well as medium- and high-income countries. Despite recommendations from National Immunization Technical Advisory Groups (NITAGS) for the high-risk populations of older people and those with underlying chronic conditions, governments do not always fund and / or effectively implement these live saving interventions. Answering why countries are consistently below immunisation targets is a pressing issue as suboptimal rates of adult vaccination persist within and among countries, with rates even falling in some areas. Equitable access to immunization requires sustained and increased investment in the lives of people of all ages. The rights of older people to access health promotion and prevention services are human rights.
In this symposium the challenges, barriers, and opportunities to address suboptimal adult vaccination rates will be explored through the pillars of prevention, access and equity with a focus on identifying and mobilizing action to improve adult vaccination rates around the world.
The first presentation will explore study findings from a variety of countries to understand the impediments patient and ageing organizations encounter in prioritizing adult vaccination in the context of healthy ageing. Next the impact of the social determinants of health on a person’s ability to be informed of and access vaccination sites will be discussed against the backdrop of vaccine messages and health literacy. Improving awareness and knowledge through innovative programs (e.g., Adult Vaccination Mentorship Program at IFA Project ECHO and the Vaccination Advocacy Toolkit) will be explored in the final presentation as solutions toward influencing policy and practice.
Presenter #1, Anais Diaz
Prioritizing vaccination: Identifying barriers and building bridges
Globally, despite the evidence, rates of adult immunization are far below recommendations and targets set by NITAGs, Member States and the World Health Organization (WHO). Crucial to improving adult vaccination rates is the role of patient and ageing organizations in advocating for vaccination as part of healthy ageing. These organizations through their vast networks and member base have the ability to reach individuals and influence their health outcomes by providing information on the importance of immunization throughout the life course.
Despite the potential impact that civil society could have on the knowledge and beliefs of constituents about vaccination, it is rarely prioritized. Through in-depth examinations we know that barriers include: inadequate and or an absence of funding, insufficient organizational capacity and a limited understanding of the impact of VPDs on those at highest risk who they represent. These findings are foundational to helping to build the capacity and capability of these organizations as they work to prioritize life-saving vaccinations. At the heart of the next steps is helping to building bridges and relationships across sectors and disciplines towards a common goal of ensuring healthy ageing for all.
Presenter #2, Anna Sangster
The impact of social determinants on equity and access to adult vaccination
Answering why countries are consistently below the adult influenza vaccination targets is a pressing issue as suboptimal rates persist within and among countries, with rates in recent times even falling in some areas. Some studies have identified modifiable barriers to influenza vaccination in older adults, such as the misconceptions of adult vaccination, the limited knowledge of existing immunization policies, and logistical issues related to vaccine delivery. However, there is a more silent and insidious issue. In large part campaigns to inform and encourage older people to receive vaccinations, appear blind to the inequity caused through standard universal messages that do not consider social determinants. Social determinants such as level of income, racial identity, culture and access to health services play a key role is an individual’s knowledge of vaccine related information including, types of vaccines available, vaccination gateways, vaccine recommendations and vaccine safety. Findings from the Ending Immunisation Inequity study unmasked the intersecting inequities and pathways to adult vaccination and represent the groundwork needed to develop more effective targeted public health campaigns to those populations most at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases
Presenter #3, Petek Yurt
Education and awareness: Innovative solutions for driving change
While strategies to improve vaccination policies, and programs can vary across and within countries, a bottom-up approach is required to drive sustainable policy change. A number of studies including over a decade of work with diverse stakeholders, has highlighted the lack of public awareness on the benefits of vaccines against infectious diseases.
Building awareness and educating of the consequences of vaccine preventable diseases and the value of vaccines in protecting the health and wellbeing of at-risk groups is key to helping to influence and shape policy that drives change. This session will describe the rationale for and processes undertaken to develop innovative strategies Adult Vaccination Advocacy Toolkit and the Adult Vaccination Mentorship Program at IFA Project ECHO.
Each of these initiatives while being framed by the principles of prevention, access and equity toward helping to build the capacity and capability of civil society organizations as champions to improve the uptake rates of adult immunization.