10/26/2015 11:58 EDT | Updated 10/26/2015 12:00 EDT

Flu Vaccines Now Available In Pharmacies And Clinics Across Ontario

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images
African male doctor giving shot to patient

Free flu vaccines are now available at selected pharmacies and clinics across Ontario.

And because the influenza vaccine continues to be the best protection against the flu virus in general, Ontarians are urged get the flu shot as soon as they can.

Research shows four in five Canadians said the ineffectiveness of last year’s flu vaccine won’t affect their immunization decisions this year, according to a statement by Shoppers Drug Mart.

"Last year’s flu shot missed the mark," the statement says. "Now, health officials are telling us this year’s may also be less effective than previous years, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work."

The same research also found 54 per cent of Canadians said they were unlikely to get vaccinated this year, and 47 per cent believe there is no need to get the flu shot every year.

However, Health Canada still encourages all Canadians to get the shot. Influenza (or the flu) is more than just a cold — it's a serious respiratory infection that can lead to hospitalization or sometimes even death, especially for children under five, pregnant women and seniors with health conditions.

This year in Ontario, children and youth between the ages of two and 17 can also get a flu vaccine as a nasal spray, which studies show can be more effective for kids between the ages of two and five. And while getting the shot is one way to protect yourself, you can reduce your risk of contracting the flu by taking care of your person hygiene and eating well.

"Hand cleaning either with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer; sneezing or coughing into your sleeve; and staying home when you are sick reduces the risk of the flu, but it’s not enough," says Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s acting chief medical officer of health. "Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting or giving the flu to those around you. It can help your body build its defenses and can make you more resilient to flu viruses.”

12 Immune-Boosting Foods