Quebec's vaccination campaign against H1N1 will start Monday, Health Minister Yves Bolduc says.
The move comes as the federal government officially approved the swine flu vaccine.
The vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu but remains a personal choice, Bolduc said Wednesday.
Dr. Alain Poirier, Quebec's chief public health officer, said the second wave of the flu has already begun in the province.
Officials confirmed the death of an 87-year-old woman from the Chaudière-Appalaches region on Tuesday, Poirier said, noting she was the first person since August to die from complications relating to the virus.
The government has already distributed 400,000 doses of the vaccine to the province's regions.
The first to be vaccinated will include:
- Health-care workers.
- Pregnant women.
- Children between six months and five years of age.
- Family members of people with chronic illnesses who cannot be vaccinated.
- People living in isolated regions.
The vaccine is not effective on children under six months of age and should not be given to people who already have a fever, Poirier said.
"Every person that will have it will decrease the risk of having the flu for himself and for others," he said. "The vaccine as far as we know is really [effective]. It provides protection —antibodies in 95 to 97 per cent of people within 10 days."
The capacity to deliver the vaccine should not be a problem, Poirier said, although he acknowledged it would take time for the province to receive enough vaccine to inoculate all of those who want it.
The public will be notified when the vaccine will be available for different target groups, Poirier said. Information will be posted on the Health Ministry's website by Saturday.
Regional officials are also expected to make announcements over the coming days.