Quebec looking at expanding free flu vaccine program

Quebec’s health minister is looking into the possibility of expanding the number of people who can receive free flu vaccines.

In an email to CBC News, the ministry confirmed Danielle McCann has asked for an expert opinion on extending the province’s influenza immunization program to those outside the target groups identified by the province’s public health agency.

This comes after a three-year-old girl from the Outaouais died from an intense bout of the flu earlier this month, just days after showing her first symptom.  

The little girl was diagnosed with influenza in Buckingham, Que., before she was transferred to Montreal.

She died last Thursday.

Who is eligible for a free vaccine? 

Currently in Quebec, the flu vaccine is offered, free of charge, to people who are considered at a higher risk of complications.

They include:

  • Children between the ages of six and 23 months and adults between 60 and 74 who are in good health.
  • People age 75 or over.
  • Those six months old and up with certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, immunity disorders, and heart, lung or kidney diseases.
  • Pregnant women with certain chronic illnesses.
  • Pregnant women in good health in their second or third trimester of pregnancy.
  • People in close contact with people at higher risk of developing complications.
  • People in close contact with children under six months old.
  • Health care workers, especially those in direct contact with patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities.

‘It will be a good thing’

Leila Malti, a pharmacist who practices in both Ottawa and Gatineau, said free flu vaccines should be available to a wider range of people in Quebec as it is in Ontario.

“I think if it’s free, it will be a good thing,” she said.

​Pharmacist Leila Malti says expanding the number of people who receive free flu vaccines in Quebec will better protect communities. (Idil Mussa/CBC )

Malti said increasing the number of people who are vaccinated makes sense because it will better protect communities.

In the meantime, she said people who are outside the province’s target groups should still consider paying to get vaccinated.

“They will protect themselves and their family and friends,” she said.

The cost varies from place to place.

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