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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
senior man with flu blowing nose

Influenza Information and Clinics

The flu (influenza) is a contagious virus that can infect anyone. The flu shot is your best defense against the flu, and there are several other things you can do to protect yourself from catching it and avoid spreading it to others. Check out our influenza FAQs at the bottom of this page for more information.

Want to learn more about where the flu is spreading in Ontario? Check out the Influenza Like Illness Tracker.

The Flu Shot Is Your Best Defense

The flu shot is:

  • safe (including for kids, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)
  • free
  • available from your health care provider, Public Health, and participating pharmacies
  • proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
  • different each year because the virus changes frequently

Each year, the influenza vaccine is offered by Public Health through community clinics at a variety of locations throughout Hastings and Prince Edward counties, and also through booked appointments.

Flu season peaks in the late fall. Be sure to get your shot as soon as it is available, because it takes two weeks to take effect.

Where to get the Shot

The vaccine is available at no cost to any person over the age of six months who lives, works or attends school in Ontario. The influenza vaccine is also available through participating pharmacists (except for children under age five), and your health care provider.

There are two types of flu shots available for individuals over age 65, the standard flu shot, and the high dose. To receive the higher dose flu shot (available only to those over 65), individuals must visit a primary care provider, participating pharmacy or Public Health.

Public Health Influenza Clinics

Public Health typically offers flu clinics each fall, beginning in November. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are exploring options for how to safely offer flu shots this year. Once details have been finalized, the information on this page will be updated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Flu?

  • The flu is a virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs
  • The virus is spread very easily by coughing and sneezing, releasing it into the air where it can be breathed in by others. It can also be passed when an infected person shakes hands or touches surfaces like doorknobs or shared toys
  • Flu symptoms are: coughing, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, runny nose, sore throat, weakness and fatigue
  • For most people, the flu virus will not cause serious illness
  • In the elderly, those with chronic health problems, or infants and young children, the flu may cause pneumonia and result in hospitalization, or even death

Who Should get the Flu Vaccine?

The shot is recommended and available for free in Ontario to everyone six months of age and older. The flu vaccine is especially recommended for the following high risk groups:

  • anyone 65 years of age and over
  • all children between six months and five years of age
  • pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy
  • Indigenous peoples
  • anyone at high risk for flu-related complications including those with heart, kidney or lung disorders, neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions, diabetes, cancer, immune problems, or obesity
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic care facilities
  • anyone who provides care to children under five years of age
  • anyone who may give the flu to those at high risk, including health care providers
  • anyone who provides essential community services, e.g. police

Who Should NOT get the Flu Vaccine?

  • Infants under six months of age
  • Anyone with a high fever, or moderate to severe illness, should wait until they feel well
  • Anyone who has:
    • had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of flu vaccine or a vaccine component, with the exception of eggs – even individuals who had severe reactions to eggs in the past may be vaccinated for flu, including FluMist, the live nasal spray vaccine
    • previously developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome within the first six weeks after a flu shot
    • previously developed Oculo-Respiratory Syndrome (ORS) within 24 hrs of a flu shot, with severe lower respiratory symptoms, e.g., wheezing, tight chest or difficulty breathing

What are the Common Side Effects of the Flu Vaccine?

  • If you receive an injection, you may feel sore for a few days where the needle was given
  • Some people may have general muscle aches, fever and feel tired for a day or two. Tylenol® or ibuprofen may be taken as directed to reduce discomfort or fever afterwards

**Children under 19 years of age must not be given ASA, Aspirin® or salicylates.

What Else do I Need to Know?

  • Children age six months to less than nine years receiving flu vaccine for the first time in their lives should have two doses at least four weeks apart. If they missed the second dose in a previous year, one dose annually is enough
  • The influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu
  • Because the flu virus changes often, it is necessary to get a flu shot every year
  • The flu vaccine works best if you get it in the fall because it takes about two weeks before the vaccine is effective against the flu
  • It is still possible to catch a different strain of flu that the vaccine does not protect against
  • To reduce the spread of the flu, sneeze or cough into a tissue or into your elbow or upper sleeve, and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds

When Should I Seek Medical Help After Immunization?

  • If you, or your child experience any unusual side effects, such as high fever, please seek medical attention and notify us
  • Call 911 or go to Emergency at a hospital right away if you, or your child, have any of the following symptoms after immunization:
    • swelling of the face and neck
    • red itchy eyes
    • problems breathing: wheezing or tightness in chest
    • hives and itchy, reddened skin

Need More Information About Influenza Information and Clinics?

If you have other questions or concerns that are not answered here, please talk to your health care provider, or call our Immunization Program at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 221.

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We are working to respond to community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.

Please continue to visit our website for more information about our programs and services.