With so much focus on COVID over the past 18 months, the dangers of ordinary flu may have been forgotten. Medical officials are concerned that because there was so little flu last year, the population may be more susceptible than normal. So, 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.
Said Christine Elliott, 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’re receiving your flu shot and still have yet to receive a first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, now is the time.”
Last year, with no COVID vaccine yet available. uptake of the flu vaccine by Ontarians was the highest in recent history. Building on these numbers, 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.
Starting with the most vulnerable, Ontario’s initial supply of flu vaccine was prioritized for long-term care home residents and hospital patients beginning in September, and 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.
Ontarians are encouraged to be patient as it may take time for shipments to arrive to their local flu shot locations.