Stay healthy this winter, with a flu shot

Eric HoskinsAnother winter is just around the corner. I hope it doesn’t involve another polar vortex or Christmas ice storm, but it’s best to be prepared.

Being prepared means having a game plan to stay healthy during a season when colds and flu are rampant, so you can keep your family healthy during the winter.

You may not make it through the snowy season without a few sniffles, but you can reduce the risks. Ontario’s health professionals and community clinics can help.

One of the best ways to stay healthy is to get a flu shot. These are important for children, parents, teachers, health-care workers, seniors and people with suppressed immune systems to stay healthy. But everybody who interacts with a lot of people, takes public transit or performs physical labour will benefit from a flu shot.

Many workplaces have their own flu-shot clinics, and 2,400 pharmacies offer flu shots for people over age 5. If you don’t know where to get your flu shot, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care can help you find a free clinic near you. Visit for more information.

Every year Ontario’s flu-shot programs prevent 30,000 hospital visits and 200,000 doctor visits, so they also help keep our health-care system accessible for everyone.

Don’t forget you can pass on the flu to others even before you show symptoms. It’s best to get a flu shot so you’re not taking any risks.

Here are other things you can do to make sure you have quick access to quality health care when you need it most:

  • Make sure you have a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan health card. You can renew or replace your health card at any Service Ontario location.
  • Get enrolled as a patient with a family doctor. The health ministry has made it easy to find a family doctor through its Health Care Connect Web portal.
  • Call a registered nurse any time. The health ministry’s Telehealth Ontario number, 1-866-797-0000, will connect you with a qualified health-care professional if you are unsure about what you should do when you or a loved one is ailing.

Have a safe and healthy winter!