Ottawa

Ottawa flu clinics begin offering annual shot on Saturday

Ottawa Public Health is offering its first community flu clinic of the season in Kanata on Saturday but the publicly-funded flu shot is also available from your family doctor or pharmacist.

4 flu cases in Ottawa so far this season, OPH confirms

Free influenza shots are available across Ontario, beginning this week. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

Ottawa Public Health is offering its first community flu clinic of the season in Kanata on Saturday but the publicly-funded vaccine is also available from family doctors and pharmacists.

Saturday's clinic will be held at All Saints Catholic High School at 5115 Kanata Ave., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

As different strains of the flu virus appear each year, scientists try to predict which will be the most likely to affect the population and use those strains to create a vaccine.

For the flu shot to be useful, you have to get it before you're exposed to the flu, so we encourage people to get the shot early.- Robin Taylor, OPH

This year's vaccine is made to protect against influenza A(H3N2), influenza A(H1N1) and influenza B, according to Ottawa Public Health. The vaccine for children has a second influenza B strain, as well.

The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from year to year, but Robin Taylor, OPH's associate medical officer of health, said it's an important "part of the package" in fighting the flu, on top of washing your hands, coughing in your sleeve and staying home when you're sick.

"Some years they hit the nail on the head and the flu shot does very well and other years it's just not as effective — and we don't know until the flu season is upon us. But for the flu shot to be useful, you have to get it before you're exposed to the flu, so we encourage people to get the shot early," she said.

Taylor said it's especially important for those with sensitive chronic illnesses — as well as those who work or spend time with them — to get the shot as early as possible, because it take about two weeks to build up immunity after taking the vaccine.

So far, there have been four reported cases of the flu this season, Taylor said, adding that it's too early to tell if we're in for a tough flu season.

"Not everybody with the flu gets tested, so we're hearing, really, about the tip of the iceberg. But four cases in a city with a population of almost a million is still very, very few," she said.

Other scheduled flu clinics in Ottawa this season:

  • Nov. 1, at Montfort Hospital (713 Montreal Rd.), from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 1, at Mother Teresa Catholic High School (440 Longfields Dr.), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 2, at Queensway Carleton Hospital (3045 Baseline Rd.), from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 2, at Fred Barrett Arena (3280 Leitrim Rd.), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 3, at Royal Ottawa Hospital (1145 Carling Ave.), from 1:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 3, at St. Pius X High School (1481 Fisher Avenue), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 5, at École secondaire catholique Béatrice Desloges (1999 Provence Ave.), from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Nov. 7, at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (401 Smyth Rd.), from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 7, West Carleton Community Complex (5670 Carp Rd.), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 8, Osgoode Township High School (2800 Eight Line Road), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 9, Sacred Heart Catholic High School (5870 Abbott Street E), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 10, Alfred Taylor Recreation Centre (2300 Community Way), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 14, at Ottawa City Hall (110 Laurier Ave. West), from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Nov. 15, at South Carleton High School (3673 McBean St.), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 16, at Perley and Rideau Veterans Health Centre (1750 Russell Rd.), from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 16, at Greely Community Centre (1448 Meadow Dr.), from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.