Why aren’t people over 65 with underlying health conditiona being given priority for the H1N1 vaccine?

Ministries of Health across the country have identified priority groups who should be receiving the early doses of the H1N1 vaccine and they don’t include people over the age of 65 with underlying medical conditions. These six priority groups are: pregnant women, children from six months to five years of age, people who live with children under six months old, people under 65 with underlying medical conditions, immuno-compromised people and those caring for them, people living in remote and isolated communities.

People with underlying conditions over the age of 65 are being separated from those under 65 because experience in the Southern hemisphere shows they are they are much less likely to be infected than younger people. One analysis showed that 1.3 people for every 100, 000 over the age of 65 were infected in 2009 compared with 26.7 per 100, 000 of those 5 years to 24 years of age and 22.9 per 100,000 in those younger than 5 years old. Rates among younger persons were 15 to 20 times higher. This has been true both in the United States and in the Southern Hemisphere during their flu season. Laboratory tests on blood samples indicate that older people are more likely to have some pre-existing immunity to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus.

The centre for disease control has compiled a list of F.A.Q.s on this topic click here to read it.

In May 2009, CDC researchers had found antibodies in the blood of older people, researchers have singled out 1957 as a key year because the deadly 1918 pandemic of H1N1 that swept over the globe mutated in 1957 and the new H2N2 virus took the place of the old H1N1 virus. People alive before 1957 are therefore much likelier to have been exposed to the swine flu strain and to have developed anti-bodies.

A helpful article from web MD on this topic, can be found here

What Should People over 65 with Underlying Health Conditions Do?

Federal and Provincial health agencies are all stressing the importance of the regular “seasonal” flu vaccine for people over 65. Older persons are at increased risk of complications from the regular seasonal flu strains and this year is no exception.

You can also refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s F.A.Q., it has fairly comprehensive information on H1N1 and at press time, it had been updated October 31st 2009. Click here to visit the site.

You can also contact your provincial public health departments and keep abreast of developments by visiting their websites:


Find your local public health unit click here

British Columbia

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Visit the government health website here


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Click here for more information on H1N1 and flu vaccines in Saskatchewan