TORONTO — Starting tomorrow, October 30, Ontarians will be able to receive their free flu shot and the new, most recent COVID-19 vaccine at local pharmacies, public health units and primary health care providers across the province. Staying up to date on vaccinations continues to be the best way for people to stay safe and healthy this respiratory illness season and avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital.
“Getting your COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot is the best way to keep yourself, your loved ones and your community healthy,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Our government is ensuring you have access to the tools you need this fall respiratory season by making COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots available in convenient locations close to home, at no cost to Ontarians.”
It is safe and convenient to receive both a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time, reducing the need for multiple visits. The new COVID-19 vaccines now available are specifically designed to target the XBB variant and were approved by Health Canada earlier this fall.
All Ontarians six months and older can receive their next COVID-19 dose if it has been a recommended six months since their last dose or confirmed COVID-19 infection. Ontarians are encouraged to speak with a health care professional to help determine their appropriate vaccination schedule.
"With the expected co-circulation of influenza, COVID-19 and RSV over the fall and winter, I encourage Ontarians to get their COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot as soon as they can,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Especially those who are elderly, immunocompromised, or have medical conditions that make you particularly susceptible to harm from respiratory illnesses."
To reduce the risk of spreading illness, individuals are advised to wash their hands often, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, clean surfaces and shared items regularly and stay at home when sick.
Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is ensuring communities across the province have the tools they need to stay to stay safe and healthy this fall and winter while ensuring hospital beds are available for those who need them most.
Once available, you can book a COVID-19 vaccine through participating pharmacies, through public health units or via our website or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007 toll free) from Monday to Friday (excluding holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
During the colder months, we see increased transmission of respiratory illnesses, including the flu, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Learn more about RSV and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, particularly older seniors and young infants.
Ontario has introduced its first publicly funded RSV vaccine program for older high-risk adults. Through this program, the Ministry of Health covers the full cost of the vaccine for adults aged 60 and older living in long-term care homes, Elder Care Lodges and retirement homes licensed to provide dementia care services.
Individuals can access rapid antigen tests through their local public health unit. Health care providers across the province can now order rapid antigen tests to share with patients free of charge. Using the PCR testing locator, eligible individuals can also access COVID-19 testing at pharmacies and assessment centres.
"As one of the most accessible points for care for most Ontarians, pharmacy professionals are proud to play a critical role in vaccinating Ontarians against the flu. With almost 5,000 community pharmacies across the province, with many open early and late, we encourage every Ontarian who wants a flu shot to get one. Contact your local pharmacy and book your flu shot today."
- Justin Bates
CEO, Ontario Pharmacists Association
"With the flu season upon us, and elevated risk of multiple respiratory viruses, vaccination remains a critical measure to protect ourselves and loved ones from illness. Neighbourhood Pharmacies is proud to work alongside the government and our health system partners to continue to make immunization services accessible to Ontarians. Pharmacies are a convenient destination for all vaccinations, with extended hours and close to 5,000 locations in virtually every community across Ontario."
- Sandra Hanna
CEO, Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada
"At Rexall, we’re committed and ready to continue being a cornerstone of accessible healthcare for Ontarians during this current respiratory illness season. Joining forces with community pharmacies, the Ministry of Health, healthcare providers, and public health units is key to ensuring that every person in the province can access their flu and updated COVID-19 vaccines. We’re proud to play an integral role in keeping our communities safe and healthy."
- Nicolas Caprio
President, Rexall Pharmacy Group
"Independent pharmacies play a critical role during flu season as among the most accessible healthcare providers in the community, particularly in rural Ontario. Guardian, I.D.A., Remedy’s Rx and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy pharmacists are well poised to ensure patients have access to the care, medication, and vaccines they need across the province. The health and safety of the community is a top focus for independent owner/pharmacists who are administering flu and COVID-19 vaccinations to help our communities stay healthy during flu season conveniently and safely."
- Smita Patil
VP Professional Affairs, McKesson Canada
"Pharmacists are increasingly the first point of contact for patients when it comes to their healthcare needs and as a result, we’re acutely aware of the negative impacts that Covid and the flu can have on our communities. In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Health, we’re pleased to offer patients the option of both vaccines in one appointment, making it easier and more convenient to get the protection they need and doing what we can to keep our communities healthy and productive this fall."
- Jeff Leger
Pharmacist and President, Shoppers Drug Mart
"Ontario’s doctors are committed to ensuring the health and safety of everyone across the province this respiratory illness season. We encourage Ontarians to get your seasonal flu shot and COVID boosters, wash your hands often, wear masks when appropriate and stay home if you are sick. As part of our Prescription for Ontario: Doctors’ 5-Point Plan for Better Health Care, we have to ensure everyone in the province has access to a family doctor and a team of health-care professionals who can discuss important health issues like vaccinations with them."
- Dr. Andrew Park
President, Ontario Medical Association