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Ontarians can get the flu shot in November

A pedestrian walks by a sign in a store window encouraging people to receive a seasonal flu shot in Toronto on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Evan Buhler A pedestrian walks by a sign in a store window encouraging people to receive a seasonal flu shot in Toronto on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Evan Buhler
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Ontario residents will be able to get their annual flu shot starting in November.

The provincial government said the vaccine will be available as of Nov. 1 through health-care providers, public health units and participating pharmacies.

“The colder weather is here which means an increase in respiratory illnesses,” Minister of Health Sylvia Jones said in a statement.

“Getting vaccinated remains the best defence against the flu and COVID-19 to help keep Ontarians healthy and out of hospitals. This will also ensure the province can continue its efforts to keep Ontario and its businesses open.”

The Ontario Pharmacists Association said that high-risk individuals and seniors will be able to get their flu vaccine as of Oct. 17.

“Pharmacists are ready. We have put in all of the mechanisms to prepare in advance for what we expect to be higher demand this year due to the fact that we've seen more outbreaks of flu in the southern hemisphere,” Justin Bates said.

Last year, Ontario spent about $90 million on 7.6 million doses of the flu shot, an increase of 1.4 million doses from 2020.

It's not yet clear how many doses of the vaccine Ontario has obtained this year. The Ministry of Health has said that further details will come closer to the end of October.

Bates said that Ontario pharmacies tend to get about 50 per cent of the doses the province acquires and he isn’t concerned about having enough supply.

“The provincial allocation in terms of the number of vaccines that they order is usually more than what's needed, but you see an initial demand surge in the early days and then it takes a couple of weeks to replenish that supply,” he said.

Residents will be able to book appointments for flu shots at pharmacies online, but Bates said that some may also accept walk-ins.

The government also announced Thursday that everyone aged 12 and up will become eligible for the bivalent COVID-19 booster dose as of Oct. 17.

Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health urged residents to get both vaccines when eligible to prevent severe illness and hospitalization as the province enters into the fall flu season.

Residents are able to get both shots at the same time, officials said, although they must be administered in different arms.

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