The annual public health campaign kicked off today urging you to get your free flu shot to stay healthy and prevent visits to already overburdened hospital emergency departments during flu season.
Flu shots are available for free at:
- Health care provider’s offices for people six months of age and older;
- Participating pharmacies, for people five years of age and older (certain flu vaccines only).
Getting the flu shot is safe and easier than ever, with every batch of the vaccine tested using strict guidelines for safety and quality, according to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, also deputy premier and minister of Health and Long-Term Care, got her flu shot today at Snowden Pharmacy.
"The flu shot is the best defence to reduce the risk of getting and spreading the virus," said Elliott in a news release. "The vaccine is available across the province to protect you and your family. By investing in preventive measures like the flu shot, we can help save lives and reduce the strain on our system."
"Each year, thousands of people across the province get the flu, which puts extra pressure on our hospitals," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "When you get the flu shot, it reduces your risk of being seriously ill, taking time away from school, work or spending time with families."
To help get the word out, Minister Elliott encouraged colleagues, community leaders and people across the province to get their flu shot and post about it on social media using the hashtag #FightTheFlu.
The flu shot protects against the most common viruses expected this season. The flu can be passed on before showing the symptoms that lead to visits to the doctor, sometimes hospital stays or even death.
The flu usually starts with a high fever, cough and muscle aches. A person infected with the flu may also have a headache, chills, loss of appetite, fatigue and a sore throat. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can also occur, especially in children.
As well as getting your flu shot, other ways you can help prevent catching the flu — and sharing germs — include:
- Wash your hands well and often with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleanser;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and discard it immediately. Then wash your hands;
- Cough into your upper sleeve — not your hand — if you don’t have a tissue;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
- Stay home when you’re sick;
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and shared items.
- It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to reach its full effect. Children four and under, pregnant people and seniors are particularly at risk of serious complications due to the flu;
- There were about 8,908 flu-related hospitalizations and among those, 619 deaths in Ontario last flu season;
- A 2018 Canadian study found that people are six times more likely to have a heart attack in the weeks after having the flu, and this risk may be higher for those aged 65 and older;
- For more information on the flu and where to get your shot, visit ontario.ca/flu and york.ca.