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'Get your vaccinations,' medical officer of health warns, as Toronto battles bad flu season
Nov. 17, 2022

Everyone should take precautions, including getting vaccinated, as Toronto battles a particularly bad influenza season, the city's medical officer of health said on Wednesday after she rolled up her sleeve to get her flu vaccine.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, speaking to reporters at the Metro Hall immunization clinic downtown, said Toronto Public Health is seeing "heightened levels of respiratory illness" earlier in the year than would normally be the case.

"We expect this trend to continue over the next number of weeks," she said.

De Villa said she is encouraging Toronto residents to get both their flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster.

Residents need to do their part to protect the health-care system and vulnerable people, including children, seniors, and those with medical conditions, she said.

"Get your vaccinations, mask up, stay home when you are sick, and wash your hands and clean those high touch surfaces," she said.

"Toronto, we know what we need to do and we know how to do it. We can do this together."

De Villa said "these simple steps" are good ways to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. She said vaccination, in particular, is one of the best tools to prevent infection and reduce the severity of infection.

Her remarks came as the City of Toronto launched its 2022-2023 flu vaccination campaign. Toronto has six city-run immunization clinics that offer both the flu and COVID 19 vaccines and de Villa said it means one-stop shopping.

As part of the campaign, Mayor John Tory also rolled up his sleeves and received his flu vaccine and COVID-19 bivalent booster.

"I got my shots today because I both wanted to protect myself and I also wanted to make sure that I did whatever I could to encourage other people to get vaccinated," Tory said.

De Villa added: "It's also safe and convenient to receive your flu vaccine and your COVID-19 booster at the same time, just like the mayor did today."

Actions can reduce pressure on health care, city says
In a news release on Wednesday, the city said: "Having more people vaccinated, together with the use of personal protective practices such as hand and respiratory hygiene and staying home when sick, can reduce exposure and results in fewer infections and less severe illness in the community, which will help to reduce pressure on our health-care system."

The Public Health Agency of Canada says flu spreads from person to person by droplets produced by coughing, sneezing or talking. People may also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

The flu and COVID-19 vaccines are available for people six months of age and older. People 12 years and older are eligible for the bivalent booster. Flu shots are available by appointment or on a walk-in basis and a health card is not required.