Can I get a flu shot (vaccine)?

Ontario has a universal flu immunization program. This means that people who live, work or attend school in Ontario can choose to get the flu shot (vaccine) for free.

Who should get a flu shot?

Health care providers suggest that anyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot. They also suggest that, in particular, people who have a higher risk of suffering complications or of spreading the flu should get the flu shot.

These are some of the groups that are considered high risk:

  • Anyone who is 65 years old or older
  • Anyone with a serious, long-term health problem, or with heart, kidney, or lung disease (including asthma)
  • Anyone whose immune system is weakened by disease, a chronic condition, drugs or other treatments
  • Anyone living, working or volunteering in a nursing home, chronic-care institution, retirement home, hospital or other health-care facility
  • Health-care workers and emergency-service workers
  • Anyone who lives in the same household as people at high risk of complications from the flu

Some people should not get the flu shot. After the shot, the immune system produces antibodies that attack the flu virus when it enters the body. It takes approximately two weeks for the full protection of the vaccine.

Babies under 6 months of age are too young to get the flu shot. If you have serious allergies or have had a serious allergic reaction from a previous flu shot you should talk to your health care provider about the ingredients in the vaccine before getting a flu shot or nasal spray.

What is the nasal spray vaccine?

Children aged 2 to 17 have the option to receive the flu vaccine by nasal spray rather than injection (or shot). You can ask your health care provider if this is an option when you book your appointment.

If your child is getting the vaccine for the first time, they may require a second dose a few weeks apart. Talk to their health care provider if this is the first year they will get the vaccine.

When can I get a flu shot?

Winter is cold & flu season in Canada. Most people should get the vaccine in October or November. However, you can get the vaccine in December or later in flu season.

Health care providers suggest that the flu shot can help reduce your chances of getting this illness. They recommend that all eligible Ontarians receive the flu shot. It is important that you always discuss the benefits and risks of any vaccination with your health care provider before getting a vaccination.

Where can I get a flu shot?

You can get a flu shot at your doctor office and public flu shot clinics. These clinics are offered by public health units, pharmacies, community health centres, hospitals, long-term care homes, community care access centres and employers.

Children under 5 years old must get the flu shot or nasal spray from their health care provider.

For More Information

  • Get a Flu Shot – An interactive map with the locations of flu shot providers. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Influenza: About Influenza - General information about the flu, how to protect yourself, frequently asked questions, fact sheets and more. From the Government of Canada.
  • Flu Virus - Tips to protect yourself from the flu. From the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
  • Immunize Canada - This website has information about vaccines and immunizations for adults and children, which diseases have vaccines, and whether vaccines are safe for you and your child. From the Canadian Public Health Association.
  • Public Health Agency of Canada - A site offering valuable on-line resources related to health, including up-to-date information on influenza. This information is for the general public and health professionals.
Last updated: October 26, 2018 4001232