Flu Shots

Flu Shots Information

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Influenza is a potentially serious infection that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death that’s different every flu season. Millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

It is highly recommended by Health Canada to immunize groups at high risk of developing serious influenza complications and those capable of transmitting influenza to them. See individuals at high risk of developing serious influenza complications for a full list of age, health status and environmental factors that confer increased risk.

Skip the wait! Come get your flu shot today by any of our highly skilled pharmacists in just a few minutes. Walk-ins are acceptable.

Flu Shots Administration Hours

During Flu Shot Season:
Mid-October Through April

Weekdays: 11 am till closing
Saturdays: 9 am – 4 pm

Flu Shot Benefits

There are many reasons to get a flu vaccine each year. Below is a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination, and selected scientific studies that support these benefits.

Can Prevent You From Getting The Flu
  • Flu vaccine prevents millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor’s visits each year. For example, during 2016-2017, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 5.3 million influenza illnesses, 2.6 million influenza-associated medical visits, and 85,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations.
  • In seasons when the vaccine viruses matched circulating strains, flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40 percent to 60 percent.
Reduce The Risk of Flu-Associated Hospitalization for Children, Working Age Adults, and Elderly
  • Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2016-2017, flu vaccination prevented an estimated 85,000 flu-related hospitalizations.
  • A 2014 study showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012.
  • In recent years, flu vaccines have reduced the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations among adults on average by about 40%.
  • A 2018 study showed that from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu by 82 percent.
Prevent Serious Medical Events Associated With Some Chronic Conditions
  • Vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.
  • Flu vaccination also has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
Protect Women During & After Pregnancy
  • Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by up to one-half.
  • A 2018 study showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent.
  • Getting vaccinated can also protect a baby after birth from flu. (Mom passes antibodies onto the developing baby during her pregnancy.) A number of studies have shown that in addition to helping to protect pregnant women, a flu vaccine given during pregnancy helps protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth, when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated.
Can Be Life-Saving in Children
  • A 2017 study was the first of its kind to show that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
Reduce Severity of Illness in People Who Get Vaccinated But Still Get Sick
  • A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, ICU length of stay, and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients.
  • A 2018 study showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent 4 fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated yourself may protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, See individuals at high risk of developing serious influenza complications for a full list.

FAQ Flu Shot

A. Universal Influenza Immunization Program

What is the Ontario Universal Influenza Immunization Program (UIIP)?

Ontario’s Universal Influenza Immunization Program (UIIP) offers influenza vaccine free of charge each year to all individuals six months of age and older who live, work or go to school in Ontario

Where and how can Ontarians access publicly funded influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is available at no cost to the public through primary care providers, public health units, pharmacies (for those 5 years of age and older), and in various other settings such as long-term care homes, workplaces, hospitals and community health centres. Vaccine product availability may vary by location. During the influenza season, Ontarians can contact their local public health unit if they require assistance locating influenza vaccine. Individuals may be required to provide proof that they live, work or attend school in Ontario to receive the vaccine. Many different identification (ID) documents are accepted to prove eligibility

B. Influenza Burden

How many people typically become infected with influenza every year?

In the 2018/2019 influenza season, there were 48,818 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza reported nationally to FluWatch, Canada’s surveillance system that monitors the spread of influenza and influenza-like illness. It is important to note that there are many more people infected with influenza each year in Canada; most people with influenza do not seek health care and/or do not have a specimen taken, so are not included in the case counts for those with laboratory-confirmed influenza.

How many people are hospitalized or die of influenza every year?

Influenza and pneumonia are ranked among the top 10 leading causes of death among the Canadian population. According to Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), it is estimated that approximately 12,200 influenza related hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths related to influenza occur on average in Canada each year. The actual numbers can vary from year to year depending on the severity of the influenza season.

Who is considered High-Risk and should receive the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine is recommended for people six months of age and over without contraindications. Although infants less than six months of age are at high risk of complications from influenza, influenza vaccines are not authorized for use in infants less than six months of age. Individuals in the following three groups are particularly recommended to receive the influenza vaccine:

Individuals at high risk of influenza-related complications or who are more likely to require hospitalization:

  • All pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities
  • People ≥ 65 years of age
  • All children 6 to 59 months of age
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Adults or children 6 months of age and over with chronic health conditions as follows:
    • cardiac or pulmonary disorders
    • diabetes mellitus or other metabolic disease
    • cancer
    • conditions or taking medication which compromise the immune system (due to underlying disease, therapy or both)
    • renal disease
    • anemia or hemoglobinopathy
    • neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions
    • morbid obesity (body mass index of ≥ 40)
    • children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) undergoing treatment with acetylsalicylic acid for long periods

Individuals capable of transmitting influenza to those listed above and/or to infants under 6 months of age:

  • Health care workers and other care providers in facilities and community settings
  • Household contacts of individuals at high risk of influenza related complications
  • Persons who provide care to children ≤ 59 months of age
  • Those who provide services within a closed or relatively closed setting to persons at high risk

Swine and poultry industry workers

D. Influenza Vaccine

How do flu vaccines work?

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines (called “trivalent” vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. There are also flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine and an additional B virus.

How well the influenza vaccine protect against influenza?

Influenza viruses change constantly (this is called antigenic drift) – they can change from one season to the next or they can even change within the course of one influenza season. The influenza vaccine is made to protect against the influenza viruses that surveillance and research indicate will likely be most common during the upcoming influenza season as recommended by the World Health Organization. Protection from the influenza vaccine varies from year to year depending on how well the strains included in the vaccine match the circulating strains and other factors. Influenza immunization has been shown to reduce the number of physician visits, hospitalizations and deaths. Although a less than ideal match may result in reduced vaccine effectiveness, even mismatched vaccines generally provide some protection against circulating influenza viruses. It takes about two weeks following immunization to develop protection against influenza. As protection wanes over time and virus strains change frequently, it is important to be immunized each year (influenza season). The vaccine will not protect against colds and other respiratory illnesses that may be mistaken for influenza.

Do individuals need to receive the influenza vaccine every year?

Expert advisory groups recommend that the influenza vaccine be administered annually because influenza viruses change often and immunity wanes between influenza seasons.

Can the influenza vaccine be given at the same time as other vaccines?

The influenza vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines or at any time before or after other vaccines. If given at the same time as other vaccines given by injection, separate limbs should be used if possible. Alternatively, the injections may be administered into the same muscle separated by at least 2.5 cm (1”). Different administration sets (needle and syringe) must be used for each vaccine given by injection.

Are the influenza vaccines safe?

The influenza vaccines authorized for use in Canada are safe and well tolerated. As with other vaccines used in Canada, they must be authorized for use and monitored by Health Canada.

What are the risks from the influenza vaccine?

The influenza vaccine, like any medicine, can cause side effects, which in most cases are mild, lasting only a few days. Life-threatening allergic (anaphylactic) reactions are very rare. If they do occur, it is typically within a few minutes to a few hours after receiving the vaccine. If this type of reaction occurs, medical attention should be sought immediately. For details on common side effects from the influenza vaccines, as well as serious reactions requiring medical attention, please refer to Health Canada flu information site.