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Immunization

Influenza Vaccine

It is important to get a flu vaccine each year as the flu viruses change over time.  Getting this year’s flu vaccine will give you the best protection during the upcoming flu season. The flu vaccine is recommended for individuals 6 months of age and older. It is best to get your flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available to you, as it can take up to 2 weeks for the vaccine to take full effect.

For individuals 65 years of age and older, do not delay vaccination to wait for a particular product as all flu vaccines offer strong protection against the flu.

Everyone in Ontario is eligible for their annual flu shot. Early immunization is currently available for high-risk groups (see below for more information).

For more information on this year's flu vaccine, click here

It is highly recommended that the following groups of people get the flu vaccine and get it early. The following groups may be at high-risk of influenza-related complications, may be more likely to require hospitalization or may be more likely to transmit influenza to those at high-risk.

  • Residents and staff of congregate living settings (e.g. chronic care facilities, retirement homes)
  • People > 65 years of age
  • All pregnant individuals
  • All children 6 months to 4 years of age
  • Individuals who are from a First Nation, Inuit or Métis community, and/or who self-identify as First Nation, Inuit or Métis, and their household members
  • Members of racialized and other equity deserving communities
  • Individuals 6 months of age and older with the following underlying health conditions:
  • Cardiac or pulmonary disorders
  • Diabetes mellitus or other metabolic disease
  • Cancer
  • Conditions or medication which compromise the immune system
  • Renal disease
  • Anemia or hemoglobinopathy
  • Neurologic or neurodevelopment conditions
  • Morbid obesity (body mass index of >40)
  • Children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) undergoing treatment with acetylsalicylic acid for long periods

Participating pharmacies

  • Individuals 2 years of age and older
  • Individuals without a valid Ontario Health Card
  • Early immunization for high-risk groups.

Pharmacies that offer COVID-19 vaccines also offer flu vaccines. Use the COVID-19 pharmacy locator to find a pharmacy near you.

Primary healthcare providers (Family Doctor or Nurse Practitioner)

  • Individuals 6 months of age and older. 
  • Early immunization for high-risk groups.

Health Unit

Here are a few important reasons:

  • Improves your chances of staying healthy during the flu season.
  • Reduces the chance your friends or family will get sick.
  • The viruses change over time. Getting this year’s shot gives you the best protection.
  • Reduces your chances of missing time from work or special events.
  • The flu virus lives on surfaces you touch.

 Are you a health care or emergency worker?

  • You have a high risk of passing the virus to vulnerable people, even if you don’t feel sick.
  • Get the flu shot to protect yourself, your coworkers, and those you serve in our community.

 Here are some basic facts about the flu vaccine:

  • It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to build protection in your body.
  • The flu vaccine does not cause the flu.
  • Even if you get the flu after receiving vaccine, the symptoms tend to be milder.
  • The vaccine does not protect against other illnesses that have symptoms like influenza.

What’s the big deal about the flu?

  • Even very healthy people can become quite ill, missing up to 5-7 days of work.
  • You could pass the virus to someone who is at high risk for getting very sick with the flu, or for a complication of the flu like pneumonia, such as a pregnant woman, a baby, someone with  diabetes, or an older relative.
  • Get your flu shot. It will protect you, as well as your family and friends.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds or a hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) with at least 70% alcohol.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick with the flu.
  • Clean (and disinfect) surfaces often (for example, countertops, door handles, keyboards and telephones). Viruses can live on surfaces for 24 to 48 hours.
  • Don't touch your face as the flu virus can enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth.

 What if you get the flu?

If you get the flu, take these steps to speed up your recovery and to prevent sharing the "bug" with others:

  • Stay home from work or school when you are sick.
  • Keep surfaces clean.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue or upper sleeve, not your hands.
  • Dispose of tissues immediately after use.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Get lots of rest.
  • Speak to your doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist about over-the-counter medications that can help you feel better (such as basic pain or fever relievers), but do not give acetylsalicylic. acid (ASA or Aspirin®) to anyone under 18 years old.
  • Treat muscle pain using a hot water bottle or heating pad - apply heat for short periods of time.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Gargle with a glass of warm salt water or suck on hard candy or lozenges.
  • Use spray or saline drops for a stuffy nose.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and tobacco.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Don't be a visitor in a hospital, or a long-term care facility.
  • Avoid close contact with infants, pregnant women, and people over the age of 65, and those with chronic health problems. Anyone in these groups can catch the flu easily.

 Call your doctor or nurse practitioner if:

  • You don't start to feel better after a few days.
  • Your symptoms get worse.
  • You are in a high-risk group (see above) and develop flu symptoms.

Page last updated October 12, 2023

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