Free Flu Shot Available for Ontarians Six Months of Age and Older
TORONTO — 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.
"As we work to provide all long-term care residents with their flu shots, I encourage all Ontarians to get their flu shot as soon as they are eligible. Getting vaccinated is an easy step we can all take to help keep Ontario’s seniors, including long-term care residents, safe."
- Paul Calandra Minister of Long-Term Care
"As winter fast approaches the flu shot is the best way to keep our seniors safe and healthy. That is why I am asking that every senior to go to their doctor or their local pharmacy and roll up their sleeves and get the flu shot to protect themselves. This will keep their loved ones safe and healthy too."
- Raymond Cho Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
"The Ontario Hospital Association strongly encourages all Ontarians to do their part to protect themselves and others by rolling up their sleeves to receive their annual flu vaccine. It is an important tool that helps people stay safe, healthy and out of hospitals."
- Anthony Dale President and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association
"Getting vaccinated against the flu every year is an important part of keeping all Ontarians healthy and community pharmacies are convenient access points for immunizations. Rexall’s over 600 pharmacists are proud to support the annual flu shot campaign for the past 10 years and we are proud to partner with the provincial government to play a role in serving our communities once again this flu season."
- Nicolas Caprio President of Rexall
"With flu season approaching, it’s more important than ever that we do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable – that means getting your flu shot and COVID-19 booster dose. Pharmacies are a convenient destination for all vaccinations, including the flu shot, with extended hours and often no appointments required. With stores in most communities across Ontario, we are proud to support our neighbours and do our part to keep Ontarians healthy."
- Jeff Leger President of Shoppers Drug Mart
"Kohl & Frisch commends Premier Ford and Minister Jones for moving quickly to distribute flu vaccines to pharmacies this year. As a distribution partner we know that flu vaccine access for Ontarians, including the most vulnerable, is critical at this time of year. We encourage all Ontarians to get the shot at their local pharmacy."
- Ron Frisch President and CEO of Kohl & Frisch
"Ontario’s pharmacy professionals are proud to support the Ontario government in preventing the spread of the flu. More than 4,000 pharmacies across the province are working hard to ensure that every Ontario who wants a flu shot gets one. Contact your local pharmacy and book your flu shot today."
- Justin Bates CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association
"The last two flu seasons we have had extra protection against the flu with public health measures in place because of COVID-19. This year we are expecting an especially harsh flu season at the same time COVID-19 is also still circulating, so it’s vital we do everything we can to protect ourselves. Ontario’s doctors urge everyone to get a flu shot as well as their COVID boosters, consider wearing a mask in indoor public places, wash their hands regularly and stay home when sick."
- Dr. Rose Zacharias President of the Ontario Medical Association
For more information on the flu, visit Ontario.ca/flu.
For resources in multiple languages to help local communication efforts in responding to COVID-19, visit Ontario’s COVID-19 communication resources webpage.
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.