_ (press release) _ The free flu vaccine will be available in Ontario starting this week, so that people can better protect themselves against the flu virus and stay healthy.
The vaccine will be available at doctor’s offices, local public health units and community immunization clinics. Anyone five years of age and older can also be vaccinated for free by trained pharmacists at approximately 2,600 pharmacies across the province. ** Related: Where to get the flu shot in Ottawa. ** Influenza is a serious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization and even death. It’s important to get the flu shot every year to protect yourself, and those around you. Children under five, pregnant women and seniors are especially at risk of getting seriously ill from the flu. The vaccine is very safe and helps to protect against the most common strains of the virus.
People are also reminded to take everyday measures to protect themselves from the flu:
* Clean your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer * Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve, not your hand * Clean and disinfect surfaces often, such as countertops, telephones and keyboards; flu viruses can live on surfaces for up to eight hours
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 * In 2015-16, approximately 2,500 participating pharmacies administered more than 869,000 doses of publicly funded influenza vaccine. * The 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. * Children and youth between the ages of five and 17 years can get the flu vaccine as an injection or nasal spray at a health care provider’s office, local public health unit or at a participating pharmacy. * Kids under five years of age must get the flu vaccine at a health care provider’s office or participating public health unit. * Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, headache and tiredness. If you or your children develop flu symptoms, contact your primary care provider.
Additional Resources * [ Find where to get a flu shot ](https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-flu-shot/) * [ Flu shot safety ](https://www.ontario.ca/page/flu-shot-safety?_ga=1.147874359.1847965509.1423861747) * [ Kids and the flu ](https://www.ontario.ca/page/kids-and-flu-shot?_ga=1.156388795.1847965509.1423861747)