Quebec changing free flu vaccine policy

The medical community is re-thinking the way the flu vaccine is administered and this year the new policy will see fewer Quebecers having automatic access to the free vaccine.

Le Devoir says people over the age of 75, those living with a chronic illness, and seniors living in government care homes will be given priority and will still be offered the vaccine for free, as will most pregnant women, residents of remote or isolated communities, parents with children under the age of six months and health care workers.

However, children between the ages of six and 23 months and people between 60 and 74 years will no longer be eligible for the free vaccination if they are in good health, but, for this year only, they will be able to get the flu shot for free, if they ask for it.

Health officials say the changes are not being made for budgetary reasons.

New studies show that giving the vaccine to healthy people does not greatly reduce the death rate or hospitalization related to influenza.

Instead, the new policy will include better targeting of the high risk groups.

Currently between 20% and 65% of high risk groups are getting the vaccine.

The new policy wants to hit a target of 80%.