Today, Toronto Public Health (TPH) is launching the annual online flu vaccine booking system to help residents schedule their appointments for TPH's annual flu vaccine clinics. This year, in response to local COVID-19 circumstances, TPH flu vaccine clinics will only be available through online appointments to ensure that appropriate physical distancing and infection prevention and control measures can be followed to reduce the potential risk of virus spread and keep residents safer.
TPH has been using the online appointment booking system for many years. Due to the higher demand for flu vaccine this year, more TPH flu vaccine clinics will be offered starting this week until the end of December. All Toronto residents who wish to get the flu vaccine will also be able to get vaccinated at doctors' offices or participating pharmacies.
Getting vaccinated against the flu may also reduce the number of individuals who need COVID-19 testing, as the symptoms are very similar. Annual flu vaccine is important to protect vulnerable residents from more severe illness. This includes older adults, individuals with chronic and pre-existing health conditions, residents of nursing homes and chronic care facilities, children six months to five years of age and pregnant women.
Influenza, also known as the flu, can spread to others before symptoms even appear. 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. 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. Symptoms of the flu can be difficult to tell apart from symptoms of COVID-19 without a test. Recovering from the flu usually takes a week to 10 days, but for some people it can worsen pre-existing health conditions such as asthma or heart disease or develop into more serious health problems such as pneumonia and, in rare circumstances, 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. Flu clinic appointments can be booked online at https://www.tphbookings.ca. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk-in appointments will not be available this year.
More information about the flu is available https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/health-programs-advice/immunization/flu-influenza/.
"I encourage all residents to get their flu shot this year. This year's Toronto Public Health flu vaccine clinics are more important than ever in the wake of COVID-19. I want to thank Toronto Public Health for the work it has done to ensure these clinics can operate safely and the ongoing work confronting the spread of COVID-19 in our community."
- Mayor John Tory
"This year, it's more important than ever that we each get our flu shot to protect ourselves and each other. Limiting the spread of the flu in our city this fall and winter will not only prevent those around us from getting sick, but will also preserve our health care system, which is crucial as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to your local pharmacy or doctor's office, flu shots will be available through Toronto Public Health's flu vaccine clinics, where you can easily book your appointment in advance online."
- Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York), Chair, Toronto Board of Health
"Getting a flu vaccine is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from getting sick with the flu. As we live with COVID-19, this action is more important than ever to protect our healthcare system and ensure that our health resources are available for those who need them most. In addition to getting your annual flu vaccine now, washing your hands often, covering your cough or sneeze and staying home when you are sick are important ways to reduce the spread of the flu and COVID-19. These steps, in addition to wearing a mask when physical distance cannot be maintained, will help protect you and those around you." - Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health