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Reminder That Free Flu Shots Are Still Available

Web posted on January 07, 2014

Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Arlene King, is reminding Ontarians to protect themselves from influenza by getting the flu shot. The flu vaccine prevents up to 80 per cent of influenza cases in healthy children and adults.

Dr. King stresses it is still important to get immunized - particularly with an increased proportion of laboratory confirmed cases of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus in the province and across the country this year. As of December 28, 2013, there were 908 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in Ontario, including 268 hospitalizations and eight deaths.

"I am calling on all Ontarians who have not already done so to get the flu shot now, since it takes about two weeks to become fully effective. Influenza is a serious, acute respiratory illness that can cause lost time at work or school, a slow recovery, and, in some cases, even hospitalization or death. Getting the flu shot is easier than ever protect yourself and get the shot. It's not too late." Dr. Arlene King, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health.

This strain of influenza affects people of all ages, but children under five and those age 20 to 64 years old appear to be most susceptible. The flu vaccine is free and available to everyone, six months of age and older, who lives, works or attends school in Ontario. To date, children under five appear to be most at risk of hospitalization. Deaths have been reported in adults and the elderly.

The flu vaccine is safe and the best way to keep you and the people around you healthy during the flu season. Persons at highest risk of hospitalization and death from the flu are children under five years old, seniors, people with weakened immune systems and individuals with underlying medical conditions.

The free flu vaccine is available at doctors' offices and is also available for those five and older through specially trained pharmacists at close to 2,000 pharmacies across Ontario - three times as many pharmacies as last year. Ontarians are also encouraged to contact their local public health unit about community flu immunization clinics.

Ontarians can get information about flu immunization, and locate your nearest flu clinic by visiting