Ontario started its yearly flu immunization program on October 25, 2016 and residents can now get a free shot at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and local public health units around the province.
There are approximately 2,600 trained pharmacists in Ontario who can administer the vaccine to individuals 5 years of age and older. This makes immunization for school-aged children very accessible and convenient, without the need to lose any school time. Pharmacies are open seven-days-a-week (including evenings) and no appointment is required.
Influenza is a serious and contagious respiratory infection that sends many Canadians to hospital each year. Many even die. Flu viruses are always changing and the strains are usually different from year to year. There is no universal flu vaccine that offers people lifelong protection so for now people need to get an updated shot every year to protect themselves from the flu.
In Ontario, individuals who are 6 months or older and live, work or attend school in the province are eligible to receive the publicly-funded influenza vaccine. People at high risk of complications related to influenza are particularly encouraged to get the vaccine. These include seniors, people with chronic health conditions and pregnant women.
Most flu viruses are passed on from person to person by means of coming into contact with infected respiratory droplets or touching something with the virus on it (like shaking the hand of infected person). You can also avoid catching or spreading the flu with frequent handwashing and avoiding people who are sick. If you have the virus, avoid people and stay home to rest and recover.
Visit the Ontario government website for a list of where to get the flu shot in Ontario.