Influenza, or more commonly known as the flu, becomes more prevalent in our communities in the late fall and into the winter months. It affects healthy people and those who are more vulnerable because of their age and/or chronic health conditions. The flu can spread quickly and easily from an infected person to others. Anyone can get it. 

The flu usually starts with a high fever, cough and muscle aches. A person infected with the flu may also have a headache, chills, loss of appetite, fatigue and a sore throat. Nausea, vomiting diarrhea can also occur, especially in children.

How can I avoid the flu?

The first and best step to preventing the flu is to get the flu shot every year. Getting the flu shot can protect you, your loved ones and those around you.

The flu shot is free for everyone who lives in Ontario.

Getting the flu shot is very important for people who are at high-risk of getting very sick and being hospitalized because of the flu including:

  • Children six months to five years of age 
  • Residents of nursing homes or other chronic care facilities 
  • All pregnant women (the vaccine is safe in pregnancy) 
  • People 65 years of age and older 
  • Indigenous peoples 
  • People with chronic health conditions (e.g., asthma, heart disease, diabetes and others) 
  • Those who live with, have close contact with or provide care to the high risk groups listed above are a priority for getting the flu shot, including: 
  • Health care workers and other care providers (E.g., personal support workers) 
  • People who are around children less than five years of age 

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also recommends swine and poultry industry workers receive the annual flu shot as early as possible.

Flu shots are available for free at: 

  • Health care provider’s offices for people six months of age and older 
  • Participating pharmacies, for people five years of age and older (certain flu vaccines only)

It’s important to get the flu shot as early as possible as it can take nearly two weeks for the flu shot to take full effect.  

In addition to getting the flu shot, here are some other health tips that can help prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Wash your hands well and often with either soap and water or alcohol based hand rub 
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue out immediately. Wash your hands afterwards. Cough into your upper sleeve if you don’t have a tissue 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth 
  • Stay home when you’re sick 
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and shared items

Be sure to eat healthy, stay active, and get plenty of sleep to keep your immune system strong. 

Let’s stay as healthy as possible through this flu season!

To learn more about flu and flu vaccine, visit

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