Ontario urges flu shots as hospitals still deal with COVID patients

260 patients were being treated for COVID-19 Tuesday including 159 in intensive care and 101 on ventilators

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The Ontario government is urging residents to be vaccinated against the flu this season in part to prevent added pressure on hospitals as they deal with the latest wave of COVID-19 patients.

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Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government will spend more than $89 million on the flu shot program, which she described as one of the largest in the province’s history, offering over 7.6 million doses of vaccine at no charge to Ontarians.

The shots are available this month to seniors, children aged six months to four years old, pregnant women, and other individuals at high risk of complications, Elliott said.

The flu shot will be offered to all Ontarians starting in November dependent on supply, and can be given at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.

Elliott said Ontario is also awaiting approval to provide a COVID-19 vaccine to children aged five to 11 years old.

“We are working actively with our public health units to determine a rollout for that vaccine when it is approved by Health Canada, of course, and we will be ready as soon as it is approved to be able to distribute it and have it available for children across the entire province,” she said.

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Ontario hospitals reported 260 patients being treated for COVID-19 Tuesday including 159 in intensive care and 101 on ventilators. The unvaccinated continue to represent the majority of patients in hospitals.

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Four new deaths and 328 additional cases were also confirmed in the province.

There were 60 new cases in Peel Region and 52 in Toronto, with all other public health units experiencing 20 or fewer new cases.

Public health data indicated that 83% of Ontarians aged 12 and up eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination have been fully inoculated, while 4% have had a single dose and 13% are unvaccinated.

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