Flu shots for seniors now available

To keep Ontarians healthy this flu season and prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital during the fourth wave of COVID-19, the Ontario government is launching one of the largest flu immunization campaigns in the province’s history, with the flu shot available to all Ontarians starting in November.

Last year, uptake of the flu vaccine by Ontarians was the highest in recent history.

Building on this success, Ontario is investing over $89 million this year to purchase over 7.6 million flu vaccine doses, which is 1.4 million more doses than last year. This includes a total of 1.8 million doses specifically for seniors. To protect the most vulnerable, flu shots are now available for seniors and others most at risk for complications from the flu. Starting in November, the flu shot will be available for all Ontarians through doctor and nurse practitioner offices, participating pharmacies, and public health units. To further improve access and convenience to the flu shot and based on demand in recent years, pharmacies will receive approximately 40 per cent of the allocated doses, up from 36 per cent last year.

The flu vaccine is offered free of charge to anyone over the age of six months who either lives, works, or goes to school in Ontario. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now recommends that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as the flu vaccine.

The flu shot is especially important for children under five, people who are pregnant and those 65 years and older who are at higher risk of hospitalization and flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, heart attack or, in some cases, death. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, headache and tiredness. If you or your children develop flu symptoms, contact your primary care provider.

Some symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu and it may be hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.

Take the COVID-19 self-assessment at this link https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/ to help you determine if you need to get tested and for guidance on next steps. To help stop the spread this fall, Ontarians should continue to follow COVID-19 public health measures and advice in public settings, including wearing a face covering indoors, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from those outside their household.

-Debbie MacDonald Moynes