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U of T opens flu shot clinics on campus for students, staff and faculty

“The influenza vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself against an influenza infection,” says Jeff Kwong, a professor at U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health (photo by Nick Iwanyshyn)

As the University of Toronto opens its flu shot clinics around campus, public health experts are warning that influenza spares no one.

“Unless you know that every person you spend any time with is healthy, it is helpful to protect yourself and those around you by getting the influenza vaccine,” says Jeff Kwong, a professor at U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

While influenza most often causes relatively mild illnesses in healthy individuals, it can be deadly for people who live with chronic medical conditions, older adults, pregnant women and young children.

Influenza hospitalizes 12,000 Canadians annually and claims the lives about 3,500.

“Every year, we even hear stories about healthy people who end up in the ICU because of an influenza infection,” says Kwong.

Coming into contact with a sick person or touching contaminated surfaces are the most common ways to catch influenza.

 “The influenza vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself against an influenza infection, but it won’t protect you against other viruses because it’s only designed to protect against influenza viruses,” says Kwong, adding that you’re less likely to pass influenza on to someone else if you’re immunized.

The vaccine is safe even for those who have egg allergies. Most influenza vaccines are produced in eggs, but the egg protein is removed in the process of making them. “To be on the safe side, you should be monitored for 15 to 30 minutes after getting the vaccine to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction,” says Kwong.  

In addition to the vaccine, he encourages students to wash their hands frequently, maintain a good diet, exercise and sleep well. “All those things your mom told you to do,” he says.  

So far, laboratories have detected the H3N2 strain that typically indicates a bad flu season. However, accurate predictions are hard to make, says Kwong. Last year’s flu season started off as an H1N1 season and ended with a separate H3N2 outbreak. 

“Just when you think you have figured out all the patterns, the virus throws you a curveball. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, so it’s better to be safe than sorry by getting the flu shot.”

Photo of Cheryl Regehr getting flu shot

Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr receives a flu shot in Sidney Smith Hall  on Monday (photo by Nick Iwanyshyn) 

Where to get the flu shot on campus:

St. George campus:

Free flu vaccinations will be available to students, staff and faculty from all three U of T campuses at the following times and locations. Bring your TCard to identify yourself as a student, staff or faculty member of U of T. If you are a staff member who does not have a TCard, please bring your U of T business card.

Monday, Nov. 11  
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Athletic Centre, lobby
2 – 6 p.m. Sidney Smith Hall, lobby

Tuesday, Nov. 12 
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Centre for International Experience, Baldwin Room
2 – 6 p.m. Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, atrium

Wednesday, Nov. 13 
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Goldring Student Centre, atrium (main floor) Victoria College
2 – 6 p.m. Hart House, Map Room (main floor)

Thursday, Nov. 14 
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Robarts Library, Room 1152 (ground floor)
2 – 6 p.m. Sidney Smith Hall, lobby

Friday, Nov. 15  
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Jackman Law Building, Flavelle House, Rowell Room (FL228)
2 – 6 p.m. Robarts Library, Room 1152 (ground floor)

U of T Scarborough

Flu shots are available now for students by appointment. 

U of T Mississauga

More information will be available here shortly.