11/01/2013 07:10 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Quebec health care system braces for flu season

A province-wide influenza vaccination campaign started Thursday, and Quebec’s health minister is pushing for more doctors and nurses to get the vaccine.

About a quarter of the 250,000 workers in Quebec's health care sector contract the flu every winter, and Health Minister Réjean Hébert says their taking sick leave leads to slowdowns in treating people.

“It increases problems of access to the health care system,” he said.

Hébert said the government is also planning ahead of the approaching flu season to make sure people who do get sick will have the necessary health services, even during the holidays.

“It there was an outbreak and a significant increase in doctor visits, we would open flu clinics,” he said.

The health minister predicted that roughly 400,000 people across the province will catch the flu this year.