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Flu Shot Information

It is easier than ever to get your flu shot

During influenza season, you can get the flu shot at:

  • Family doctors’ offices
  • Walk-in clinics
  • Participating pharmacies (for individuals five years or older)
  • Some workplace clinics

Visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to find a flu shot clinic near you. York Region provides flu shots for adults and children aged three and older. Flu shots are by appointment only. Please call 1-877-464-9675 ext. 73044 to inquire about appointments.

The Influenza Vaccine

Getting the flu shot each year provides the best protection against the flu throughout the flu season. Since the viruses that cause flu change frequently, you need to get a flu shot each year.

The flu vaccine:

  • Reduces the risk of serious flu complications
  • Results in production of antibodies against both influenza virus types A and B (both types contribute to influenza illness)
  • Influenza vaccine effectiveness can vary from year to year. During years when there is a good match between the flu shot and circulating viruses, the flu shot can prevent the flu in up to 60 per cent of the overall population
  • Is recommended for all persons six months of age or older
  • Is provided at no cost to anyone who lives, works or attends school in Ontario
  • Takes about two weeks after being given to start working
  • Does not cause the flu because the vaccine does not contain live virus!

If you prefer for your child to not have an injection, there is an alternative. Flumist® nasal influenza vaccine can be given instead of an injection. Flumist® can be administered by a pharmacist (for ages five through 17 only) or a health care provider .

The flu vaccine is especially important for:

Those who are at high risk of developing complications from the flu:

  • Adults and children with chronic health conditions including obese people
  • All children six months to five years old (infants under six months are at high risk, however, the vaccine is not offered for this age group)
  • Pregnant women (see - Pregnant women need a flu shot! )
  • People 65 years of age and older
  • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
  • Those who live with or have close contact with the following groups are a priority for flu immunizations:
    • Children under five years old
    • Health care providers
    • Service providers who work with those at high risk of developing complications from the flu

The flu shot is highly recommended for those who provide essential community services to minimize the disruption of routine activities during flu season.

When to wait before getting the flu vaccine:

People suffering from a sudden illness with fever or those who have just started on medication (e.g. antibiotics) should wait until they are feeling better before being immunized.

Note: Individuals who have a mild illness can receive the flu shot.

People who should not receive the vaccine:

  • Those under six months old (the current vaccine is not recommended for this age group)
  • Anyone with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine
  • Those who have developed Oculo-respiratory syndrome (ORS) with severe lower respiratory symptoms within 24 hours after receiving a flu shot in the past (these people should consult with their doctor)
  • People who have had a serious allergic reaction to the flu shot in the past (severe reactions are extremely rare and occur within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the flu shot)
  • Anyone who developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) within six weeks following a flu shot injection in the past

Note: Children nine years old or younger who are receiving their first dose of the flu vaccine will require a second dose 28 days after the first one.

About the Flu

Influenza is commonly called “the flu”. It is caused by a virus. The flu is a serious, acute respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia.

You can catch the flu at any time of the year, but infections are more likely to occur in colder, dryer seasons.

In Canada, “flu season” usually happens between November and April.


The flu usually starts with a headache, chills and cough and is followed quickly by one or more of the following:

  • Fever (over 38 degrees Celsius / 100 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Muscle aches and fatigue
  • Running nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Children may have other symptoms, such as ear aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s web page about the flu to learn:

  • The difference between the flu and a cold
  • What to do if you or a family member gets sick with the flu
  • How getting the flu shot every year helps to protect you

Avoiding the Flu

The flu spreads quickly and easily from an infected person to others through:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Touching contaminated surfaces (such as toys, doorknobs and unwashed hands) and touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands

Everyone is at risk of getting the flu; protecting yourself also protects the people around you.

Being sick with the flu is unpleasant. If you or a family member has other health issues, it can be a serious threat.

How to Avoid Getting the Flu:

  • Get the flu shot
  • Wash your hands well and wash them often using soap and warm water
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (it should be 70 to 90 per cent alcohol to be effective)
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Cover your cough or sneeze

How to avoid spreading the flu:

You may not know at first that you have the flu virus. It may be a day or even a week before you get sick. During that time you can spread the flu to others.

If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms:

  • Sneeze or cough into your sleeve or a tissue, not your hand
  • Throw away used tissues after each use
  • Wash your hands often
  • Clean and disinfect shared surfaces (toys, doorknobs, light switches)
  • Limit your contact with others
  • Stay home if you are sick

What York Region Does

  • Monitors and investigates influenza cases and outbreaks
  • Investigates unusual disease patterns that could indicate a change in severity of influenza illness in the community
  • Educates the public about infection prevention and control
  • Distributes the flu vaccine to hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and workplaces
  • Distributes the flu vaccine to physicians’ offices and participating pharmacies

Workplace Clinics

  • Employers can help by providing flu information and encouraging vaccination. Doing all you can to keep your staff healthy is important and it is a smart business decision. It will save you money.
  • Visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for resources and information about setting up a flu clinic in the workplace.

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