Toronto lags behind Ontario and Canada for flu shots
Next time you’re packed into a subway car with a bunch of coughing commuters, you can take discomfort in the fact Torontonians lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to getting their flu shot.
After peaking at a high of 40 per cent in 2005, the influenza vaccination rate in Toronto plunged to 30 per cent in 2013-2014, according to Statistics Canada.
Ontario is the only province where flu shot rates have gone down in recent years. In fact, only residents of Newfoundland and Quebec were less likely to get vaccinated than Ontarians.
That’s a problem in a dense city like Toronto, said Dr. Jonathan Gubbay with Public Health Ontario.
“There are many ways influenza is transmitted and one of them is direct contact,” he said. “In a place like Toronto there’s more opportunities for close contact through public transit, for example.”
Gubbay speculated that the influenza outbreak of 2009 may have caused some people to become “skeptical” about the flu vaccine, although he noted the epidemic was due more to timing than the efficacy of the shot.
The city is launching its flu vaccine campaign Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Atrium (595 Bay St.). The first of nine community vaccine clinics will be available and residents can get their flu shot free. More information can be found on toronto.ca.
Influenza cases have begun to be reported across the province, but Gubbay warned flu season hasn’t landed yet. There’s no way to predict when it will, but Gubbay and his colleagues are closely monitoring everything from lab results to hospital visits.
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