Ottawa flu clinics underway

Flu clinics opened in Ottawa on Saturday, with increased access to the vaccine at locations throughout the city.

Ottawa Public Health launched the 2013 Influenza Immunization Campaign at the OPH Immunization Clinic on Constellation Drive last week.

"Getting sick with the flu can last several days, and for people with other health issues, it can lead to serious illness," said Dr. Isra Levy, Ottawa's medical officer of health.

"In the last year alone, the flu and complications from the illness resulted in more than 3,600 hospitalizations in Ontario, including 120 in Ottawa. Alongside good hand hygiene and cough etiquette, getting the flu shot is the best protection against becoming ill."

This year more than 340 doctors' offices and walk-in clinics and close to 140 pharmacies in Ottawa offer the vaccine.

That's twice the number of pharmacies as last year, when a bad outbreak of the flu hit the city early in the year.

"With the vaccine available in more locations, getting the flu shot is now more convenient and accessible for all residents," said Coun. Diane Holmes, chair of the Ottawa Board of Health.

"It's effective and it protects people, also the more vulnerable people around them such as people with chronic health conditions, the very young, young children and the elderly," said Dr. Carolyn Pim, Ottawa's associate medical officer of health.

Health officials also recommend hand washing or hand sanitizer use, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough with your arm or a tissue and staying home if you're sick as ways to avoid spreading the flu.

Ottawa Public Health will provide 22 community clinics throughout the city between Oct. 26 and Nov. 28. Residents can also visit public clinics taking place at six Ottawa hospitals.

The vaccine is free for anyone working, living or going to school in Ontario who's more than six months old.

Check out the map for clinic locations and hours.

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