A woman getting a flu shot on her arm

What you need to know about the flu shot

The cold and flu season is officially underway. Anyone can get the flu, especially at this time of year. It doesn’t matter how healthy you are or where you live. All it takes is for you to be exposed to someone with the symptoms and you could be the next person sick in bed.

Did you know that the flu virus transmitted when someone sneezes and  can travel up to six feet and live on surfaces for up to two days? For these reasons alone, it’s a good idea to get the flu shot to protect yourself.

The flu can cause a variety of health problems, even in healthy people. For individuals who are at greater risk, such as young children, pregnant women, seniors and people who have weak immune systems, the effects of the flu can be stronger than for the general population.

Learn more about how to beat colds and the flu.

Facts about the flu shot

Despite regular public awareness campaigns, there is still a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the flu shot. Here are the facts:

  • The flu shot is available across Ontario
  • It is free
  • It is available at your doctor’s office, community and workplace clinics, and at more than 2,400 pharmacies across the province
  • Serious reactions to the flu shot are rare
  • It is normal to experience soreness, redness or swelling at the site of injection

Even if you take extra precautions and wash your hands diligently, sneeze and cough into your sleeve, stay home when you are sick, and do your best to avoid contact with people who have the flu, you still need to get the flu shot.

Why you should get the flu shot

Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and other seasonal viruses. It is part of living a healthy lifestyle. Getting vaccinated each year helps your immune system become more effective at beating flu-related viruses.

“We want all Ontarians to stay healthy this flu season. Getting your flu shot is the easiest and most effective way to keep you, your family and your community healthy. It’s easy to get from your doctor or nurse practitioner’s office, a public health unit clinic, a workplace clinic and, for those five and older, at a participating pharmacy. Get it every year,” says Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

Not getting the flu shot leaves you more susceptible to getting flu. That may make you miss time at work, lose wages and cost you money for things like doctor visits, prescriptions and other medical costs, especially if you don't have private health insurance for things not covered by OHIP. . Protect yourself this season by getting the flu shot.

Where to get the flu shot in Ontario

It’s easy to find out where to get your flu shot. Visit the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care website, and enter your city, address or postal code.

For more information about the flu, call the ServiceOntario INFOline at 1-877-844-1944.