29 October 2023 / #news #health Free flu shot and new COVID-19 vaccines to be generally available October 30(Via Province of Ontario)Starting tomorrow, October 30, Ontarians will be able to receive their free flu shot and the new, most recent COVID-19 vaccine at local pharmacies, public health units and primary health care providers across the province. Staying up to date on vaccinations continues to be the best way for people to stay safe and healthy this respiratory illness season and avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital.“Getting your COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot is the best way to keep yourself, your loved ones and your community healthy,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Our government is ensuring you have access to the tools you need this fall respiratory season by making COVID-19 vaccines and flu shots available in convenient locations close to home, at no cost to Ontarians.”It is safe and convenient to receive both a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time, reducing the need for multiple visits. The new COVID-19 vaccines now available are specifically designed to target the XBB variant and were approved by Health Canada earlier this fall.All Ontarians six months and older can receive their next COVID-19 dose if it has been a recommended six months since their last dose or confirmed COVID-19 infection. Ontarians are encouraged to speak with a health care professional to help determine their appropriate vaccination schedule.“With the expected co-circulation of influenza, COVID-19 and RSV over the fall and winter, I encourage Ontarians to get their COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot as soon as they can,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Especially those who are elderly, immunocompromised, or have medical conditions that make you particularly susceptible to harm from respiratory illnesses.”To reduce the risk of spreading illness, individuals are advised to wash their hands often, cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze, clean surfaces and shared items regularly and stay at home when sick.Through Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is ensuring communities across the province have the tools they need to stay to stay safe and healthy this fall and winter while ensuring hospital beds are available for those who need them most.Quick FactsOnce available, you can book a COVID-19 vaccine through participating pharmacies, through public health units or via our website or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007 toll free) from Monday to Friday (excluding holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.During the colder months, we see increased transmission of respiratory illnesses, including the flu, COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Learn more about RSV and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, particularly older seniors and young infants.Ontario has introduced its first publicly funded RSV vaccine program for older high-risk adults. Through this program, the Ministry of Health covers the full cost of the vaccine for adults aged 60 and older living in long-term care homes, Elder Care Lodges and retirement homes licensed to provide dementia care services.Ontario continues to provide convenient access to antivirals, such as Paxlovid, through physicians, nurse practitioners and pharmacists, with virtual care options available through Health811.Individuals can access rapid antigen tests through their local public health unit. Health care providers across the province can now order rapid antigen tests to share with patients free of charge. Using the PCR testing locator, eligible individuals can also access COVID-19 testing at pharmacies and assessment centres.Visit Health811 online or call 811 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007 toll free) for health advice and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.