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Provincial government encourages families to get the flu shot

Last Updated Oct 30, 2019 at 11:15 am EST

A flu shot is administered in Barre, Vt., Nov.18, 2004. It's official. Flu season is in full swing in many parts of Canada. And virtually all the viruses circulating at this point are from the H3N2 family, which is unfortunate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Toby Talbot

The provincial government kicked off its annual flu shot campaign at Women’s College Hospital on Thursday.

The shot, which is now available in doctor’s offices and pharmacies across Ontario, is free for Ontario residents.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said it’s the best way to protect yourself and others from this contagious disease.

“Every Ontarian can join our efforts to put an end to hallway health care by getting their flu shot,” said Elliott.

“In fact, getting your flu shot is an important part of keeping all Ontarians healthy and out of the hospital, while reducing the strain on our emergency departments. The flu shot will be available across the province to protect you and your family.”

Children, pregnant women and people 65 and older are at high risk for flu-related complications.

And while some people are skeptical about getting the shot, Dr. Sohail Gandhi, president of the Ontario Medical Association, assured the public that it is safe.

“The flu shot is safe and is your best defence to protect you, your loved ones and your community,” he said in a statement.

“While the flu is common, it can also be serious and cause many complications. The flu kills an estimated 3,500 Canadians every year and puts more than 12,000 in the hospital.”

Officials say flu season can start as early as November and that it can take about two weeks for the flu shot to reach full effect — so getting the shot early may be key to prevention.