Quebec says not enough seniors are getting flu shots this season

Click to play video: 'Quebec wants more seniors to get flu shots'
Quebec wants more seniors to get flu shots
WATCH: We are in the midst of flu season and Quebec health authorities said on Wednesday that they are disappointed with the low number of seniors getting the flu shot this year. Why are people not bothering when experts say the shot is highly efficient? – Jan 11, 2024

The flu is flourishing in Quebec right now, and it’s part of the reason emergency rooms are overcrowded.

Provincial health authorities said Wednesday more seniors are showing up to ERs than usual, while the number of people 70-years-old or more who have rolled their sleeves up for a flu shot is too low.

“Older people have not all shown up,” said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé, while encouraging people over 70 to get protected against the flu.

Public Health Director Dr. Luc Boileau said, overall, about 60 per cent of Quebecers over 70 have received a flu shot. Inside seniors homes that rate is about 85 per cent. However, less than half of people 70 plus who are not living in a seniors home have had the shot.

“I just didn’t make an appointment to get a flu shot,” 71-year-old Sally Berdebes told Global News at the Pointe Claire Plaza.

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The senior said she had COVID five weeks ago, and hadn’t got around to getting the flu shot since, but that she and her husband probably would soon.

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“I think people are just tired,” she said.

McGill infectious diseases specialist Dr. Donald Vinh agreed that some people are just worn out from the trying times of the past few years.

“Part of the reason, of course, is that people have this vaccine fatigue,” he said.

Sarah Greenspan, a senior who had indeed gone to get her flu shot, said believes transportation is an issue for many seniors.

“There’s no transportation other than a car to get to where they have to go,” she said, explaining a lot of people don’t want to go out in the winter.

Vinh says this year’s flu shot is highly efficient against the current version of the virus.

“The vaccine that is currently available, in fact that’s been available since October, matches really well to what’s circulating,” he explained.

According to Vinh, about 20 per cent of ER visits at McGill University Health Centre facilities these days are for a variety respiratory viruses, so influenza  is far from the only issue.

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“Another study just came out that said that flu shots not only decrease your risk of flu, they also decrease the risks of heart attacks and strokes by anywhere from 25 to 33%,” Vinh said.

Quebec says there are plenty of vaccination appointments available, and you can log on to Clic Santé to make yours.

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