Getting a flu shot as early as possible is an easy, effective and safe way to lower the risk of a flu infection. With two viruses circulating this fall, both flu and COVID-19, reduce the risk of symptom confusion by getting your flu shot.
Information About the Flu Shot
For some people, complications from the flu can be serious and can lead to things like pneumonia. People who are at higher risk of complications from the flu include infants and young children, adults aged 65 and older, as well as those with chronic medical conditions or who are taking medications that impact their immune system.
The annual flu shot strengthens the body's response against the flu by stimulating the immune system and building antibodies against the virus, making the body stronger and ready to fight off the flu. Getting the flu shot decreases your chances of getting the flu, but also protects those around you, especially those at higher risk, from being exposed to the virus.
While the flu shot does not provide direct protection from COVID-19, it does provide protection against the flu, which is another serious infection for many people. When someone contracts the flu, it could compromise their body’s immune response if they are also exposed to COVID-19.
Each year, our emergency departments are busy with cases of the flu. Fewer cases of the flu means fewer people in the hospital, freeing up our health care system to be prepared to respond to COVID-19. Keeping people out of hospitals and primary care settings also reduces the risk of being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
With two different viruses circulating this fall, both influenza and COVID-19, there may be symptom confusion. If there is a high flu shot rate in the population, there will be less uncertainty for health care providers when a patient presents with flu-like symptoms. This will also reduce the burden on our region’s COVID-19 testing capacity, so that those with COVID-19 symptoms can be quickly assessed, letting public health start the necessary contract tracing to reduce spread in the community.
All flu vaccines available in Ontario are inactivated vaccines that contain the killed version of the virus that causes the flu. Because of this, you can’t get the flu from the vaccine.
Only one dose of a vaccine is needed, with the exception of any child from 6 months to under 9 years of age who is receiving a flu vaccine for the first time. These children will require a second dose at least 4 weeks after their first for full protection.
For those aged 6 months to 64 years of age
Most people in Ontario will receive a quadrivalent vaccine, meaning the vaccine protects against two influenza A strains of the virus and two influenza B strains. In Ontario, the two quadrivalent vaccines are Fluzone® Quadrivalent and FluLaval Tetra. These are available for anyone 6 months to 64 years of age.
For those aged 65 years of age and older
Adults 65 years of age and over can receive a high-dose trivalent, Fluzone® High-Dose, which contains two influenza A strains and only one influenza B strain. Although it only protects against 3 strains, it contains four times as much flu virus antigen - the part of the vaccine that stimulates the immune system - as the quadrivalent. This can give older people a higher immune system response against the flu. This vaccine is also available at pharmacies for the 2020-21 season (this was not the case in the past).
For those with a severe egg allergy
For those with a severe egg allergy, pharmacies will carry Flucelvax® Quad for those 9 years of age and older. This vaccine is a quadrivalent that is grown in cultured cells of a mammal instead of hens egg like all other inactivated flu vaccines approved for use in Canada. This vaccine is only available at pharmacies for the 2020-21 season.
FluMist® Quadrivalent, the nasal spray, is not part of Ontario’s publicly funded flu shot program this year so it’s not available for free like the other vaccines. Families must purchase it and should speak with their health care provider or pharmacist.
The flu vaccine is available to everyone over the age of 6 months. It is recommended that everyone who is able to gets their flu shot. However, there are some groups who are strongly recommended to get a flu shot.
Those who are at a higher risk of complications, including:
- People of any age with a chronic illness; heart disease, lung disease (e.g. asthma), liver disease or diabetes
- People over the age of 65
- People who live in nursing homes or other chronic care homes
- Healthy children who are 5 years of age and younger
- Healthy pregnant women (risk increases with length of pregnancy; higher risk in third vs second trimester)
- Young children and infants under 6 months old who cannot get the flu shot
- Indigenous people*
* The high risk of complications among Indigenous populations is a consequence of many factors, including high rates of chronic health conditions, inadequate access to health care, and increased opportunity for spread in communities experiencing poor housing and overcrowding. These factors are direct outcomes of colonization.
Anyone who cares for someone who is at higher risk for complications:
- Health care workers in hospitals and other care facilities
- People who live with or take care of someone who is at high risk from complications (see the above list)
- People who live with or take care of a newborn under 6 months as these infants are too young to get the flu shot
- People who live with someone expecting a newborn during flu season
- People who give care to children less than 59 months (e.g. 5 years)
Kids need the flu shot too!! Here are 5 reasons why:
- The flu can make kids really sick with complications like bronchitis or pneumonia.
- The flu shot gives developing immune systems a boost by teaching the body to fight the flu.
- No missed work or school; sick kids have to stay home.
- Protecting your child also protects others at higher risk, especially babies and grandparents.
- The flu shot is closely monitored in Canada and has an excellent safety record.
- The TBDHU will offer by appointment only flu shot clinics for children under 5 and their families in the City of Thunder Bay. Children over 5 have more access to the flu shot as they can be immunized by their health care provider or a pharmacy. An Ontario Health Card is not needed. See the information below under the heading "By Appointment Only Clinics Offered by the TBDHU" for details on how to make an appointment for these clinics.
Health Care Providers
- Provide flu shots to those 6 months of age or older.
- An Ontario Health Card is needed.
- Flucelvax® Quad is given to those 9 years of age and older with severe egg allergies; however health care providers do not provide it. People who wish to have this vaccine must visit a pharmacy.
- Contact your health care provider or see additional information below about public flu shot clinics in Thunder Bay.
- Provide flu shots to those 5 years and older.
- Check in with your pharmacy to learn more about their plan to give flu shots this year, including whether or not you need an Ontario Health Card.
- Pharmacies can also provide the following vaccines for 2020-21 if the Fluzone® Quad is not right for you. Please contact your pharmacy to determine if they are carrying these vaccines.
- Fluzone® HighDose is for those 65 years and older.
- Flucelvax® Quad is for those 9 years of age and older with severe egg allergies.
How to Get a Flu Shot
The TBDHU will share information on flu shot clinics open to the public once details are available. Please check back regularly for updates.
Superior North EMS is will offer flu vaccines at their Junot EMS Headquarters (105 Junot Ave S, Thunder Bay).
- Appointments must be booked online – no phone calls.
- Standard flu vaccine only – NO HIGH DOSE for 65 years and older.
- Anyone 6 months of age and older.
- Ontario Health Card NOT NEEDED.
- Maximum of 2 people per appointment (immediate family).
- Use the name of the second family member in the “Reason for Appointment” section as a “plus= name of person”.
- Email confirmation will include specific instructions for the appointment.
The TBDHU will offer by appointment only flu shot clinics for children under 5 and their families in the City of Thunder Bay. Children 5 years and older have more access to the flu shot as they can be immunized by their health care provider or a pharmacy. An Ontario Health Card is not needed.
Day time and early evening appointments will be available at locations throughout the city of Thunder Bay (CLE Grounds, Oliver Road Community Centre, Moose Hall on Fort William Road, and Current River Recreation Centre), as well as at the TBDHU main office at 999 Balmoral Street. Appointments are available Monday through Friday.
To make an appointment, call TBDHU at (807) 625-5900.
The high dose vaccine for individuals who are 65 years and older is available this year. Please contact your health care provider to arrange the immunization. This vaccine is also available from participating pharmacies. Please contact your pharmacy for details.
Staff in district communities are working closely with community health care providers to support providing flu shots. As more details are available they will be posted here, so please check back regularly.
Pharmacies in the district will also be providing flu shots to those who are 5 years of age and older.
Nipigon District Family Health Team
Please make an appointment by calling (807) 887-5645 (walk-ins will not be accepted). Masks are required.
Dorion - Centennial Building
- Monday, November 9, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Rocky Bay - Rocky Bay First Nation Health Station
- Wednesday, November 4, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Red Rock - Rec Centre
- Monday, October 19, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Nipigon - Nipigon Community Centre Multipurpose (MP) Room
(Enter through the main lobby doors and exit through the MP room doors)
- Tuesday, October 27, 2020 from 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
North Shore Family Health Team
Terrace Bay - Michael King Hall
- Wednesday, October 21 from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, November 4 from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Schreiber - Schreiber Recreation Centre
- Tuesday, October 27 from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 10 from 3:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Marathon Family Health Team
Flu shot clinics are planned for the following dates. Clinics are by appointment only - email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (807) 229-3243.
- Wednesday, October 21 from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
- Thursday, October 22 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
- Friday, October 23 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
- Monday, October 26 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, October 27 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, October 28 from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Please take note of the following COVID-19 precautions at TBDHU’s immunization clinics:
- All clinics are by appointment only. Please call to schedule an appointment.
- Please call to cancel the appointment if anyone attending the clinic is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 or if anyone has been in contact with a positive case of COVID-19.
- Each individual attending the clinic will be actively screened upon arrival.
- Only those who are being immunized can attend the clinic.
- Upon entrance and exit, apply the hand sanitizer provided.
- Masks must be worn. Exceptions will be made for those with a valid medical condition in which a mask or face covering cannot be worn.
- Individuals will be required to maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres from staff, except during immunization.
- The clinic will promote a one way flow of traffic whenever possible.
- Names and phone numbers of individuals will be collected, should contact tracing be required.
- Staff will be required to complete a self-assessment tool daily.
- All staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) during immunization clinics in accordance with best practice recommendations related to PPE use in clinical settings.
- Immunization appointments will be booked to allow time for proper disinfection between client appointments.