Today, Toronto Public Health (TPH) opened 4,000 new appointments for anyone age six months or older to get their free influenza (flu) vaccination. The thousands of appointments are the first batch open to all Toronto residents, with earlier influenza vaccination efforts focused on people living in high-risk congregate settings.
Free flu vaccines will be administered by appointment only starting on Tuesday, November 1 at all six TPH fixed-site immunization clinics. Additional appointments will be added weekly into November. Identification or a health card are not required. Appointments can be made using the TPH Appointment Booking System: www.tphbookings.ca.
Anyone five years of age or older will be offered both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at their appointment.
Flu activity has already started in Toronto. Cases are expected to increase as the weather gets colder and people spend more time indoors. TPH encourages everyone to get their free flu vaccine now to prevent infection and protect Toronto’s communities.
Toronto residents six months of age and older can also receive their flu vaccine through their primary care provider starting in November. Those older than two years of age are eligible to receive it at one of more than 700 participating pharmacies.
TPH launched this year’s annual influenza campaign by offering flu vaccinations to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, such as individuals in retirement settings and to people experiencing homelessness and under-housed individuals (www.toronto.ca/news/toronto-p
Between the weeks of September 1 and October 15, TPH received reports of 119 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and one influenza outbreak in a Toronto health care institution. This is higher than the pre-COVID-19 pandemic five-year average (2014/15 to 2018/19) of 14.4 influenza cases (range of five to 23 cases) and 0.4 institutional influenza outbreaks (range of zero to one outbreak) for the same time period. Updates on flu activity in Toronto are posted every Friday by 3 p.m. on the City of Toronto’s Information for Health Professionals webpage: www.toronto.ca/community-peopl
Tips for preventing the spread of influenza
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses spread very easily from person to person by droplets produced by coughing, sneezing or talking. A person may also get infected by touching a surface or object that has these viruses on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. The flu vaccine and a fall booster COVID-19 vaccine can protect against severe infection. Other ways to protect against the spread of respiratory viruses include the following:
• Clean your hands often
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands
• Wear a mask especially in indoor public settings or crowded places
• Socialize outdoors when possible
• Keep physical distance
• Cover your cough or sneeze
• Stay home if you are sick
More actions to protect oneself, family and community can be found on the City’s Reduce Virus Spread Guide: www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/c
Influenza can spread to others before symptoms even appear. Typical flu symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. Flu symptoms include the sudden onset of high fever, chills, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. Other common symptoms include headache, loss of appetite and feeling tired. Recovering from the flu usually takes seven to 10 days. For some people, the flu can worsen pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or heart disease, or develop into more serious health problems such as pneumonia. In rare circumstances, influenza can be fatal.
People who are most vulnerable to severe effects of the flu include adults 65 years of age and older, individuals with chronic health conditions, those with neurologic or neurodevelopment conditions, residents of nursing homes and chronic care facilities, children six months to five years of age, pregnant individuals and Indigenous Peoples. More information about the flu is available on the City’s Flu Prevention webpage: www.toronto.ca/community-peopl
SOURCE City of Toronto