Ottawa Public Health is planning for a fall and winter season with higher than usual levels of influenza (flu) in the community and an increase of COVID-19 transmission. Ottawa Public Health is encouraging residents to book their annual flu vaccine as soon as possible.
Flu vaccines are currently available for older adults and those at higher risk of complications from the flu virus from participating health care providers and pharmacies.
Starting November 1, the general public will be eligible to receive their flu vaccine through their health care provider or local participating pharmacy. Vaccine availability may vary by provider.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) will be offering flu vaccine clinics for children aged six months to two years old and their household members. Newcomers and individuals without OHIP who are unable to access a flu vaccine through a primary care provider or pharmacy can also book an appointment in OPH clinics. Starting October 31 at 10 am, individuals in these groups are encouraged to book an appointment at OPH flu vaccine clinics, with appointments available starting November 1. OPH clinics will be operating from Tuesday to Saturday at various locations across the city on a rotating basis. As a precaution, masks are required to be worn in OPH clinical settings at all times.
It is safe for individuals aged five and older to receive both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time. However, individuals aged six months to under five years who received the Moderna Spikevax or the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should not receive another vaccine including the influenza vaccine on the same day or 14 days before or after. This is a precaution to help to determine if a potential side effect is due to the COVID-19 vaccine or another vaccine. If an individual becomes ill with any respiratory illness, they can receive the influenza vaccine as soon as they recover from infection.
The flu, or seasonal influenza, is a common contagious infection that affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It is spread through droplets that have been coughed or sneezed by someone who has the flu. You can get the flu by shaking hands with someone who has the flu or by touching surfaces that have come into contact with flu droplets, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Flu symptoms include a sudden fever as well as a cough and/or a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headache or body aches, and chills. You may feel more tired than usual and have a lower appetite. Most people will recover within a week to 10 days, but some people (e.g. children under five years, older adults, immunocompromised individuals and pregnant people) are at greater risk of severe complications such as pneumonia or death. Influenza infection can also worsen certain chronic conditions such as heart disease.
We can all continue efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the flu. The best way to protect yourself, those you love and the health care system is through vaccination, wearing a mask, regular hand washing and staying home if you are sick.
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