Toronto Public Health is launching a new community flu vaccine clinic at the Scarborough Town Centre this weekend.
Appointments must be booked through an online booking system, which launched on October 28. All four clinics will be open until the end of December.
The online booking will ensure that appropriate physical distancing and infection prevention and control measures can be followed at the clinic to reduce the potential risk of virus spread and keep residents safer, TPH said.
Flu shots are also available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies.
“Flu activity usually peaks between the end of December and beginning of January, so it is recommended that residents get vaccinated before then,” TPH said. “Getting vaccinated against the flu may also reduce the number of individuals who need COVID-19 testing, as the symptoms are very similar.”
TPH says it has administered approximately 1,000 flu vaccines since it launched its annual community clinics on October 22. In addition to its seasonal clinics, they also administer the vaccine at approximately 60 pop-up clinics in shelters, drop-in centres, and interim lodging sites for vulnerable Torontonians.
“Getting your annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting sick from the flu,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health. “This year it’s more important than ever to get your flu vaccine early to help protect yourself, others from severe illness, and reduce the burden on our healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The flu vaccine protects vulnerable residents, including older adults, those with chronic and pre-existing health conditions, and pregnant women, from developing a more severe illness.
“The flu can spread to others before symptoms even appear,” said TPH.
The flu is spread from person to person by small droplets produced by a cough or sneeze, or through contact with contaminated hands, surfaces, or objects, similar to COVID-19, they say.
According to TPH, typical flu symptoms include a high fever, chills, sore throat, cough, and muscle aches. Other common symptoms include headache, loss of appetite, and feeling tired. Recovering from the flu usually takes a week to 10 days, they say, but for some people it can worsen pre-existing health conditions, including asthma or heart disease, or develop into more serious health problems, such as pneumonia. In rare circumstances it can be fatal.
The flu vaccine is free for people six months of age and older who live, work, or attend school in Ontario. A health card is not required at a TPH clinic.