Flu Shot Information
Flu Shots are available starting in November at no cost for those that live, work or go to school in Ontario.
For more information, visit Ontario.ca
You can get the flu shot at:
- Health care providers’ offices
- Medical walk-in clinics
- Participating pharmacies (for individuals two years or older)
- Pharmacies do have access to the high-dose flu vaccine for seniors 65+
- Ontario health card not required to be vaccinated at pharmacy
- Some workplace clinics
It’s a different flu season. Reducing the spread of the flu is more important than ever.
Protect yourself and the people around you from the flu and help reduce the strain on health care systems currently responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Influenza (flu) Vaccine
Getting the flu shot each year provides the best protection against becoming ill with the flu. Since the viruses causing the flu can change every year, an annual flu shot is needed.
The flu vaccine:
- Reduces the risk of serious flu complications
- Is recommended for all persons six months of age or older
- Is provided for free to anyone who lives, works or attends school in Ontario
- Effectiveness can change from year to year. During years when there is a good match between the flu vaccine and circulating viruses, the flu shot can prevent the flu in up to 60% of the overall population. In years where the vaccine is less effective at preventing the flu, it still works to lower the risk of serious complications (like pneumonia) for people who become infected
- It takes nearly two weeks after receiving the flu shot for the vaccine to take full effect;
- Does not cause the flu
The flu vaccine is especially important for individuals who are at high risk of developing complications from the flu, including:
- Pregnant women (the vaccine is safe in pregnancy)
- People who are residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
- People 65 years of age and older
- All children six months to five years of age
- Indigenous peoples
- Adults or children with chronic health conditions (e.g., asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and others)
Those who live with or have close contact with high risk individuals as listed above, are a priority for getting the flu shot since they can spread the flu to high risk people. They include:
- Those that live with people at high risk of flu-related complications
- Health care workers and other care providers in facilities and community settings
- Persons who provide care to children less than five years of age
- Individuals who provide services with a closed or relatively closed setting to persons at high risk (e.g., crew on a ship)
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also recommends swine and poultry industry workers receive the annual flu shot as early as possible.
When to wait before getting the flu vaccine:
Unlike previous influenza seasons, during the COVID-19 pandemic individuals with symptoms of acute respiratory infection, including minor symptoms such as a sore throat or runny nose, should defer influenza immunization until 10 days after the onset of symptoms or until they have recovered, whichever is later, as they pose an unnecessary risk to others and health care providers if they have COVID-19 when seeking influenza vaccination.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals with suspected, probably or confirmed COVID-19, and those who are close contacts of a case should not attend influenza immunization appointments or clinics during their period of isolation as they may pose an unnecessary risk to the public and health care providers.
About the Flu
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a serious respiratory infection caused by influenza A and B viruses. It spreads quickly and easily from person to person and occurs each year in the late fall and winter months.
Symptoms of the flu are more severe than those of the common cold and often include:
- High fever
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur in children.
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 protect you and those around you
Avoiding the Flu
The flu spreads quickly and easily from an infected person to others through:
- Sneezing (when droplets containing the flu virus are released into the air then land on to the face, mouth, and eyes of another person)
- Touching surfaces, unwashed hands, or objects such as phones and toys that have been contaminated by the influenza virus and then touching your face, mouth or eyes
Everyone is at risk of getting the flu; receiving the flu shot protects you, your family and those 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 and Spreading the Flu:
- Get the flu shot every year
- Wash your hands well and often with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use a hand sanitizer (gel or wipes) with at least 60% alcohol
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue out immediately. Wash hands afterwards. Cough in your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Avoid large crowds and stay home when you’re sick
- Clean (and disinfect) surfaces and shared items
Important! You may not know at first that you have become infected with the flu virus. Adults infected with the flu can infect other people one day before they even have symptoms and up to five days after becoming sick. Children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to spread the virus for even longer.
Follow the above tips to stay healthy throughout the year.
What York Region Does
- Monitors and investigates influenza cases and outbreaks
- Investigates unusual disease patterns that could indicate an increase in severity of influenza illness in the community
- Educates the public about infection prevention and control
- Provides the flu vaccine to hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and workplaces
- Ensure pharmacies and health care providers are handling and storing vaccines properly (including flu vaccines)
- Provides the flu vaccine to health care providers’ offices
- Flu Facts - Ministry of Health
- Influenza Immunization Fact Sheets: Chinese
- National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) - Statement on Seasonal Influenza 2021-2022
- Updated the causes, symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of the flu
- Immunize Canada's Influenza Immunization video