/R E P E A T -- Vaccinations for elderly now a priority: victory tempered by climate of confusion, says AQRP/

QUEBEC CITY, Nov. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - The Association québécoise des retraité(e)s des secteurs public et parapublic (AQRP) is responding to an announcement made by authorities, that vaccinations for everyone aged 65 years or over - whether chronically ill or not - would be phased in starting tomorrow.

"This is a victory for the 300,000 people at least 65 years of age who are stricken with chronic disease. Additionally, while it was not part of our demand, this is also good news for people who are healthy but fall in this age group. The elderly are not asking for special treatment. It was already understood that elderly people in good health would be vaccinated at the same time as the general population. However, excluding any elderly unwell people from the priority vaccination groups despite the WHO's recommendations is, in our opinion, an ageist practice.

This unexpected announcement nonetheless confirms the confusion prevailing among the authorities. If the vaccination sequence was based on objective criteria, how can this type of about-face be justified? How does increased vaccine availability justify such a significant change in the vaccination sequence? Did the premier intervene to change the sequence?

In keeping with the aggressive campaign we have been conducting since November 6, we now intend to ensure that this important announcement is made a reality in every region of Quebec," declared Madelaine Michaud, AQRP president.

In July of this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a series of recommendations suggesting that every person over six months old suffering from a chronic disease be vaccinated on a priority basis:

http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/notes/h1n1_vaccine_20090713/en/index.html

The AQRP is the largest association operating independently of any union ties that represents all retirees in Quebec's public and broader public sectors. The AQRP also sets itself apart through ongoing citizen involvement on issues that affect the elderly in Quebec. More than 247,000 retirees in Quebec worked in the public and broader public sectors.

For further information: Mathieu Santerre, (418) 928-2608, communication@aqrp.qc.ca