As we approach influenza season, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario’s government is investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines as part of a comprehensive plan to prepare the health care system for a second wave of COVID-19.
"We've been working through the summer to put in place a robust and comprehensive plan to tackle a potential, more challenging second wave of COVID-19," said Premier Ford. "It's important that we prepare for any scenario in order to protect all of our citizens, especially our seniors and most vulnerable.”
The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:
- Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
- Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
- Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
- Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
- Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
- Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario's history.
Immunization is the first pillar of the plan. The province, in a partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories, ordered 5.1 million doses of the influenza vaccine, approximately 700,000 more doses than last year.
“The first pillar helps our hospitals maintain capacity through the use of the flu shot. The flu shot helps reduce visits to emergency rooms and doctors offices during this season, and this will help with keeping capacity in our health care system,” said Premier Ford. “Anyone who wants a flu shot this year can get one.”
The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks and will be available for anyone over the age of six months.
Other flu shot related measures includes:
- 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions;
- Prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes;
- Investing an additional $26.5 million to purchase additional flu vaccine doses if required and made available through the national vaccine bulk procurement program;
- For the first time in Ontario's history, improving access by allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies; and
- Launching a public education campaign to encourage getting the flu shot.
The flu shot is especially important for children four and under, those who are pregnant and people 65 years and older who are at higher risk of flu-related complications. Last flu season, there were about 5,719 flu-related hospitalizations in Ontario and 280 flu-related deaths.