Starting today, free flu shots are available to Ontarians six months of age and older. With COVID-19 vaccines also available to everyone six months and older and bivalent booster doses available to those 12 and over, Ontarians are strongly encouraged to get both their flu and COVID-19 shots as soon as possible. Keeping up to date on vaccines continues to be the best way for people to stay healthy this flu and respiratory illness season and prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital.
“Getting your flu shot as early as you can helps keep each other and our most vulnerable loved ones healthy,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “It is safe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot at the same time, so if you have yet to receive your booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should get both shots now.”
Ontarians can receive their flu shot at doctor and nurse practitioner offices, some public health units and participating pharmacies. To learn more about the flu shot, visit Ontario.ca/flu.
To protect the most vulnerable, Ontario’s initial supply of flu vaccines in September were prioritized for long-term care homes and hospitals, followed by retirement homes, health care provider offices and participating pharmacies for seniors and individuals in the community who are at higher risk of complications from the flu.
“While it is difficult to predict the severity of the upcoming flu season, Ontarians need to remain vigilant and protect themselves from the flu by getting their flu shot as soon as it becomes available,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To further reduce the chances of catching and spreading the flu and to keep everyone as healthy as possible this fall and winter season, Ontarians are also advised to wash their hands often, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, wear a mask especially in crowded indoor spaces if you are at high risk or if you feel it is right for you and stay at home when feeling sick.”
Each flu season, Ontario receives its supply of flu vaccine in multiple shipments from manufacturers over several months starting in mid- to late September based on the schedule negotiated between the federal government and manufacturers. Distribution and the ability for locations in Ontario to re-order additional supply of flu vaccine are based on the timing of shipments from manufacturers and the replenishment of the provincial supply. Ontarians are encouraged to be patient as it may take time for shipments to arrive at their local flu shot locations.
- 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.
- 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.
- Based on available data, flu vaccine uptake has remained stable at around 30 per cent for several seasons prior to the pandemic. In 2020/21, usage increased to approximately 38.7 per cent but dropped back to 29.1 per cent for the 2021/22 season.
- COVID-19 vaccinations are available for all Ontarians aged six months and older. COVID-19 booster doses are recommended to everyone aged five and over to help restore protection that may have decreased since your last dose.
- Ontarians aged 12 and over are eligible to get a bivalent COVID-19 booster dose. Appointments for a bivalent COVID-19 booster dose can be booked through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre (PVCC) at 1-833-943-3900. Eligible individuals can also book an appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating health care providers and participating pharmacies.
- The experts on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) have determined that individuals aged five years and older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as, or at any time before or after any other vaccines, including the flu shot. Children between six months and under five years of age are recommended to wait 14 days before or after the administration of another vaccine before getting their COVID-19 vaccine.
- 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 to help you determine if you need to get tested and for guidance on next steps.