A new study shows influenza-related antibiotic use in Ontario dropped 64 per cent in the seven years after the province adopted a universal flu shot program.

The study looked at rates of antibiotics prescribed for respiratory infections from 1997 to 2007, finding they dropped to 6.4 per 1,000 people in Ontario from 17.9 per 1,000 people after the program was rolled out in 2000.

Influenza is a virus and does not respond to antibiotics, but doctors sometimes give them to patients anyway, because they often don’t test to determine what is causing a respiratory illness.

As well, bouts of flu can lead to complications such as inner ear infections and pneumonia that are treatable with antibiotics.

Lead author Dr. Jeff Kwong says while Ontario’s use of flu-related antibiotics was dropping, usage rates in other parts of the country remained static.

Latest From ...