Toronto Public Health (TPH) has kicked off its annual influenza (flu) vaccination campaign, in preparation for an increase in respiratory viruses this fall, as the weather gets colder and people head indoors. This week, TPH started its campaign by offering flu vaccinations to protect some of the city’s most vulnerable residents, such as individuals in retirement settings, and is working with Inner City Health Associates to vaccinate people experiencing homelessness and under-housed individuals in shelters and drop-in sites.
TPH is preparing for annual flu vaccination clinics and encouraging all Torontonians to get their free flu vaccine when it becomes available to them in the next few weeks. Flu vaccines will be administered by appointment only at TPH’s immunization clinics.
Individuals five years of age and older are able to receive their COVID-19 fall booster dose and their flu vaccine at the same vaccination appointment. More information is available on the Toronto Public Health Appointment Booking System webpage.
In November, Toronto residents will be able to receive their flu vaccine at one of more than 700 participating Toronto pharmacies or through their primary care provider, to help them stay protected this flu season.
TPH monitors flu activity in Toronto. Between September 1 and October 8, TPH received reports of 81 laboratory-confirmed influenza cases and one influenza outbreak in a Toronto healthcare institution. This is higher than the pre COVID-19 pandemic five-year average (2014/15 to 2018/19) of 11.6 influenza cases (ranging from five to 18 cases) and no institutional influenza outbreaks for the same time period.
Beginning today, TPH will resume posting weekly data on the status of influenza in Toronto. The data will be posted on Fridays by 3 p.m. on the Information for Health Professionals webpage.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, flu spreads very easily from person to person by droplets produced by coughing, sneezing or talking. A person may also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. To prevent co-infection of COVID-19 and influenza, residents are encouraged to get both the flu vaccine and a fall booster COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
Influenza can spread to others before symptoms even appear. Typical flu symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 and include 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 a week to 10 days, but for some people it 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, it can be fatal.
People who are most vulnerable to the 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 people. More information about the flu is available on the Flu Prevention for the 2022/2023 season webpage.
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