Ontario Launching Largest Ever Flu Immunization Campaign

Tuesday September 22nd, 2020

Posted at 1:46pm

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The province of Ontario has announced the first ‘pillar’ of their fall preparedness plan to tackle a second wave of COVID-19 — the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.

“We’ve been working through the summer to put in place a robust and comprehensive plan to tackle a potential, more challenging second wave of COVID-19,” said Premier Doug Ford. “It’s important that we prepare for any scenario in order to protect all of our citizens, especially our seniors and most vulnerable.”

The province says the annual spread of the flu presents a challenge to Ontario’s response to future waves of COVID-19 and their immunization campaign will include ordering 5.1 million vaccine doses at a cost of almost $70 million.

“With the flu shots, it is so, so critical [to get vaccinated],” Ford said. “Never before have flu shots been so critical. Someone has a runny nose, maybe your kids have a runny nose, and right away it’s going to backlog the system.”

The province’s flu shot campaign includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario’s seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. They say distribution of the flu vaccine will be prioritized for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes. High-dose vaccines for seniors will also be available — for the first time in Ontario’s history — at pharmacies, according to the province.

The province says flu season can start as early as November and it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to reach full effect. They say last flu season, there were about 5,719 flu-related hospitalizations in Ontario and 280 flu-related deaths.

The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older, according to the province.

“Anyone at all who wants a flu shot this year can get one,” Ford said. “And I encourage everyone to please get their flu shot this year, it’s absolutely critical. Folks we need your help, its the best way to protect you and your family.”

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