Skip to main content Skip to sitemap
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 available through participating pharmacists (except for children under age two), 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 or a participating pharmacy.

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

Can you/should you have influenza immunization post having COVID-19?

Based on first principles of immunization there is no reason why people who have recovered from COVID-19 should not be immunized against influenza. There is no evidence that you reactivate or relapse with COVID-19 due to vaccine response.

Does having an influenza immunization mean that the recipient is more likely to catch other viruses, such as COVID-19 afterwards? Can having an influenza immunization reduce immunity to COVID-19?

The best and most up-to-date data show no increased susceptibility to COVID-19 after having an influenza immunization.

Recent Canadian research using a large number of participants, found there was no difference in the chances of getting COVID-19 between people who had received an influenza immunization in the most recent influenza season and those that had not been immunized.

A US study published in 2019 looked at the chances of being diagnosed with influenza or other non-influenza viruses (commonly confused with influenza) among US military personnel. The study found that influenza vaccine gave good protection against influenza, and that overall likelihood of a positive test for any virus other than influenza were not increased following receiving a vaccination.

We are more concerned about the potentially serious negative consequences if people experience COVID-19 and influenza, or any other severe respiratory virus, at the same time.

Can having COVID-19 reduce the effectiveness of an influenza immunization?

There is no evidence to date. In general, we do not see reduced effectiveness to a vaccine when someone is recovering from another respiratory virus. However, it is not known at this stage with COVID-19. If there is a reduced response to the influenza vaccine from someone who is recovering from COVID-19 it is still advised it is better to have the vaccine than be left at risk of catching influenza.

After recovering from COVID-19, how long before it is safe to receive an influenza immunization?

If a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 is not in a health care facility (e.g. recovering at home), immunization should be deferred until symptoms resolve, preferably following two consecutive tests negative for COVID-19 (conducted 24 hours apart). If testing is not feasible, WHO recommends deferring immunization for 14 days after symptom resolution.

If a person with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 is under care in a health care facility (e.g. inpatient) this individual can have an influenza immunization upon recovery and prior to discharge, assuming appropriate infection prevention and control measures are respected.

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.

Why should I vaccinate for influenza?

Influenza virus is always circulating in our community. It is at much lower rates outside of the winter peaks but is still present. We cannot predict how mild or severe a winter flu season will be any year. Because of the reduced community contact for due to COVID-19, the rates of respiratory illness are currently low.

However, as people start mixing more, we are expecting rates to start to rise. We cannot predict how mild or severe the winter flu season will be, but there will continue to be flu in our community. Immunization remains important.

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.

Interested in receiving monthly updates about HPEPH programs and services?

Sign up for our e-newsletter


All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a COVID-19 bivalent booster dose 6 months after previous COVID-19 vaccine.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  


For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.