With the onset of respiratory illness season, the Ontario government is reminding everyone to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations.

To prevent unnecessary visits to the hospital, the government is encouraging Ontario residents to get their flu and COVID-19 shots as soon as they are available to them.

The province said it is safe to receive both the COVID-19 and flu shots at the same time, reducing the need for multiple visits to a doctor, nurse practitioner or local pharmacy.

“It’s important to remember the simple and effective ways we can protect ourselves and the most vulnerable,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, get an annual flu shot when it becomes available, stay home when you feel sick, wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and consider wearing a mask, particularly if you are at high risk. COVID-19 activity is rising with new variants circulating and other seasonal respiratory illnesses are expected early this year. These small decisions are proven to have a big impact on keeping everyone in our communities safe and healthy.”

Flu shots will be available for vulnerable high-risk populations, including hospitalized individuals, hospital staff and residents and staff in long-term care homes, those in retirement homes and other congregate settings, starting this month. Free flu shots for the general public aged six months and older will be available starting October 30.

Moderna’s updated COVID-19 vaccine for the new Omicron XBB variant is expected to be available in Ontario later this month. The new vaccine is Health Canada-approved for people aged six months of age and older, however, initial doses will be prioritized for higher-risk populations.

Ontario is also rolling out its first publicly funded vaccination program of the first Health Canada-approved respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine for those 60 years and older living in long-term care homes and some retirement homes.