Manitoba will make the high-dose flu vaccine available to all personal care home residents when the flu season hits later this fall, something the government said is a first in Canada. 

Manitoba's Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living, Kelvin Goertzen, said the new type of vaccine — which  provides a higher level of protection against two types of influenza A and one type of influenza B — will be offered to everyone 65 years of age or older living in a personal care home.

"This higher level of protection against the kinds of strains of flu that we expect this year will be important to those particularly in personal care homes, but also to the population as a whole," said Goertzen at a press conference Tuesday.

Flu Vaccine

Manitoba says it will study the effectiveness of high-dose vaccines and possibly expand the program beyond personal care homes (Tony Talbot/AP)

"This is part of our commitment to look at new ways of doing things to ensure that the health care system is both effective and efficient."

A release from the province says lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia and bronchitis, are a leading cause of hospital admissions in adults aged 65 years or older, and the number of personal care home residents admitted to hospital rises during peak influenza activity.

Goertzen said public health officials will review the effectiveness of the high-dose flu vaccine in personal care homes this flu season, and may expand the program to the broader population in the future. 

"We'll do the analysis over this flu season and try to determine whether or not it's been effective for patients and for those who are using within the PCHs."

The vaccine will not be mandatory for those in personal health centres.