Influenza and flu shot
Flu Shots are available 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
- Designated York Region Public Health COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot clinics (by appointment only)
- Some workplace clinics
It’s a different flu season. Reducing the spread of the flu is more important than ever.
There is an increased risk of influenza spread and severity due to reduced exposure and lack of acquired immunity in the previous two seasons, and reduced COVID-19 measures. We are already seeing an increasing number of flu cases occurring in York Region, earlier in the season than in recent years.
To help make it easier than ever to get your COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot, our COVID-19 vaccine clinics in York Region will be offering both vaccines. Anyone five years of age and older can get both vaccines at the same time. Children aged six months to four years of age should receive these vaccines at least 14 days apart.
It is important to stay up-to-date with your vaccinations including a fall COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine when eligible for the best protection against getting very sick from COVID-19 and influenza.
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 each year depending on how well the vaccine strains match with circulating types/subtypes of influenza viruses, as well as the health and age of the individual receiving a flu shot. Even when there is a less-than-ideal match or lower vaccine effectiveness against one strain, it is still important to get vaccinated and be protected
- It takes nearly two weeks after receiving the flu shot for the vaccine to take full effect
- Does not cause the flu
- York Region Public Health will be offering Fluzone – a standard dose quadrivalent (QIV) for 6 months and older
The flu vaccine is especially important for individuals who are at high risk of developing complications from the flu, including:
- Pregnant individuals (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
- People who provide care to children less than five years of age
- Individuals who provide services within a closed or relatively closed setting to persons at high risk (e.g., crew on a ship)
Health Canada also recommends people who provide essential community services and people who are in direct contact with poultry infection with avian influenza during culling operations to get the flu shot.
When to wait before getting the flu vaccine:
Unlike previous influenza seasons, during the COVID-19 pandemic individuals with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should defer getting the flu shot until you have no have no fever and symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastro-intestinal symptoms) as they pose an unnecessary risk to others and health care providers if they have COVID-19 when seeking to get the flu shot.
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 and then land on 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
- Avoid large crowds and stay home when you’re sick
- 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 70% 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
- Don't touch your face
- Clean (and disinfect) surfaces and shared items
Important! You may not know 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.
COVID-19, Cold and Flu Clinics
Ontario Health is providing COVID-19, cold and flu assessment clinics.
The assessment clinic is for anyone experiencing moderate cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms who do not have access to a health care provider or has been directed by their health care provider to attend a clinic. A health care provider will thoroughly assess your symptoms and risks and help determine what actions should be taken to help you recover.
You may book an appointment at care-clinics.ca
What York Region Does
- Monitors and investigates influenza cases and outbreaks
- Investigates unusual disease patterns that could indicate an increase in the 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, workplaces and specific York Region Public Health COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot clinics
- Ensure pharmacies and health care providers are handling and storing vaccines properly (including flu vaccines)
- Provides the flu vaccine to health care providers’ offices
- Scarborough Health Network - Health care providers are available to answer any questions about influenza
- Flu Facts - Ministry of Health
- Influenza Immunization Fact Sheets: Chinese
- Recombinant influenza vaccines: A supplemental statement of the Canadian Immunization Guide chapter on influenza and statement on seasonal influenza vaccine for 2022–2023
- Updated the causes, symptoms, risks, treatment and prevention of the flu
- Immunize Canada's Influenza Immunization video