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Toronto Public Health reminding residents to get their free flu shot

With the colder weather arriving, the city is encouraging Torontonians to get vaccinated against the flu. Priya Sam reports from the launch of one community clinic

Toronto Public Health (TPH) is reminding residents of the city to get their free flu shots for what health officials are saying is the best way to prevent getting influenza.

Friday was the launch of the first of four free flu vaccine clinics being held by TPH.

Toronto Medical Health Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and coun. Joe Cressy were on-hand at the launch.

READ MORE: Flu forecast 2019: Here’s what to expect from this year’s flu season

The clinics will run from Friday until Nov. 15 and will be available for free through multiple health care providers and at more than 500 local pharmacies.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Oct. 30 that 5,000 people were hospitalized due to the flu in Ontario in 2018.

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She urged residents to get their shots even if they aren’t getting concerned about getting sick themselves. She said it’s important to get the shot to protect family, friends and neighbours, especially people aged 65 and older, children and pregnant women.

There are four strains in the 2019 vaccine — two are the same as in 2018 and two are new based on what the World Health Organization said it believes will be the dominant strains this year.

READ MORE: Health minister encouraging Ontarians to get flu shots

TPH said there was a delay in choosing which strains, which has resulted in a shortage of supply. However, TPH said the shortage should be resolved by the end of November.

Furthermore, the nasal spray form of the vaccine will not be available in Canada for the 2019 season. This was decided upon by the manufacturer of the spray and not based on effectiveness.

Residents can make appointments at any clinic, but walk-ins are also welcome.

With files from The Canadian Press