when to get flu shot ontario

Here's when the 2021 flu shot arrives and where in Toronto you can get it

Ontario has been taking the flu shot a bit more seriously since the onset of the pandemic, fueling unprecedented demand for inoculation that's likely to carry over into the coming influenza season.

The provincial government launched its flu shot program on Tuesday, investing over $89 million to purchase 7.6 million flu vaccine doses that will be rolled out to the public starting in early November.

If you think that sounds like a lot more than usual, you're right. After long lines and inadequate supply caused issues with last year's record-breaking flu vaccine rollout, the 2021 order includes 1.4 million extra doses to meet a rapidly-growing demand.

"Our government is prepared for flu season and is launching an even larger flu shot program this year to keep Ontarians healthy as we continue to respond to COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

Around 40 per cent of Ontarians got the flu vaccine last fall, a leap over the 30 per cent uptake rate typically seen. But the province is ready for an even higher uptake rate this year.

With enough vaccines to inoculate over half of Ontarians — including 1.8 million doses specifically for seniors — the province is urging everyone to get the jab, especially important in light of the combined threats of influenza and COVID-19.

"The annual flu shot is the best defence against the flu this season," said Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.

"As we head into the fall and begin gathering indoors more often with family and friends, it is even more important to get your flu shot, in addition to following public health measures, to protect yourself and those around you."

Flu vaccines will be available to everyone in Ontario starting in early November, and you can get them at any participating pharmacies, doctor’s offices, nurse practitioners, or at local public health units. The province recommends everyone ages 6 and up be given the vaccine.

Where and how to get your flu vaccine in Toronto

Here in Toronto, the city's Public Health unit is gearing up for another busy fall vaccination drive, and will be running five mass immunization clinics across the city to help get the population inoculated.

To maintain physical distancing, clinics will be available by appointment only, and you can book your shot early starting on October 27 using the Toronto Public Health booking website even if you don't have an OHIP card.

The clinics' dates and times will be posted on the City of Toronto website as they become available.

Flu vaccines can also be received at your local pharmacy or via your family doctor starting in November, but unlike Toronto Public Health flu vaccination clinics, you'd need to bring an OHIP card along. Alternatively, some community health care centres in the city host flu clinics for those without OHIP coverage.

"My team has started important work to protect residents against the flu and to help preserve our health system for those who need it most," said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health.

"Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities against the flu," said de Villa.

"Typically, the flu starts to circulate in late fall, so this is why we've started work to protect our city's most vulnerable residents now and why we're taking this opportunity to remind residents to get their flu shot early to protect our community."

Grade 7 and 8 students, who have previously been administered shots in-school, will have to use the same resources available to the rest of us this year. Toronto Public Health has stated that they "will not be requesting updates for students' vaccination records until further notice."

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