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Get Your Flu Shot and Get It Early

News Release

Get Your Flu Shot and Get It Early

Ontarians Reminded Vaccination is the Best Defense Against the Flu

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Ontarians are reminded to get their flu shots as the province kicks off its annual flu immunization program. The influenza vaccine remains the best protection against the flu virus.

Starting this week, the free flu vaccine is available for all Ontarians at their health care providers' offices, participating public health units and at community and workplace flu immunization clinics. It is also available from trained pharmacists at approximately 2,500 pharmacies across Ontario for anyone five years of age and older.

Children and youth aged two to 17 years will also be able to get the flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray instead of an injection. The nasal spray flu vaccine will help offer broader protection against four flu viruses instead of three. The added protection is against an additional strain of type-B influenza which affects children and youth more frequently than adults.

Parents will still have the option to vaccinate their children using an injection. The new injection for children and youth aged six months to 17 years will also protect against the same four viruses as the new nasal spray. 

Influenza--commonly called the "flu"--is more than a bad cold. It is a serious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization and even death, particularly for children under five, pregnant women, seniors and people with underlying health conditions. It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to give you protection against flu viruses. The sooner you get the shot, the sooner you can be protected.

Preventing the flu through immunization is part of the government's plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which provides patients with faster access to the right care; better home and community care; the information they need to live healthy; and a health care system that is sustainable for generations to come.

Quick Facts

  • Under Ontario’s Universal Influenza Immunization Program, 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.
  • While children aged two to 17 years can now receive the flu vaccine as a nasal spray or injectable, evidence shows the nasal spray flu vaccine is more effective for children aged two to five years old.
  • Children and youth between the ages of five and 17 years can get the flu vaccine at a health care provider’s office, local public health unit or at a participating pharmacy.
  • Kids under five years of age can get the flu vaccine at a health care provider’s office or participating public health unit.
  • Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough or sore throat, headache and tiredness. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. If you or your children develop flu symptoms, contact your health care provider.

Additional Resources


Dr. Eric Hoskins

“The flu vaccine is your best defense against the flu. That’s why we’re reminding Ontarians to get the flu shot this season and to get it early, especially young children and seniors who are the most vulnerable to serious complications. And it’s also why we’re giving parents more options this year when it comes to getting their kids vaccinated. The flu vaccine is free, easy to get and the best way to stay healthy this flu season.”

Dr. Eric Hoskins

Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

“Hand cleaning either with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer; sneezing or coughing into your sleeve; and staying home when you are sick reduces the risk of the flu, but it’s not enough. Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting or giving the flu to those around you. It can help your body build its defenses and can make you more resilient to flu viruses.”

Dr. David Williams

Ontario’s Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health

“Getting a flu shot at Rexall or any community pharmacy is quick and convenient. It has never been easier to get a flu shot in Ontario and it is the best way to protect your family, co-workers, friends and yourself from getting the flu.”

Warren Jeffery

Chief Operating Officer of Rexall

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