Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Immunization

Influenza Vaccine Coverage

Influenza (the “flu”) is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus.  Symptoms include sudden onset of headache, chills and cough followed by a fever, appetite loss, muscle aches and tiredness.  For more information on the disease, see the health unit's fact sheet on "Cold vs. Flu".  

Influenza vaccination (the “flu shot”) is recommended and provided for free for all Ontario residents over 6 months of age though the Universal Influenza Immunization Program (UIIP).  A flu shot is required every year to remain protected because the virus is constantly changing and because the body’s immune protection declines over time.  For more information on flu shot clinics, see the health unit’s website on the flu shot.

Burden of Illness:

Influenza and pneumonia are often treated as a combined category because influenza is a major cause of pneumonia but this can be difficult to confirm. It is estimated that influenza and community-acquired pneumonia account for 60,000 hospitalizations and 8,000 deaths every year in Ontario. Locally, influenza and pnuemonia were responsible for nearly 400 deaths in Simcoe Muskoka between 2007 and 2012.  These diseases were the tenth leading cause of death during that time period.  For more information on deaths, see the HealthSTATS page on Leading Causes of Death. For more information on the number of influenza cases in Simcoe Muskoka, see the HealthSTATS page on influenza.

Recent research has showed that Ontario’s universal influenza immunization program significantly reduced the number of deaths, influenza/pneumonia-related hospitalizations, emergency department visits and physician visits compared to the vaccine programs in other Canadian provinces. This provides evidence that the flu shot not only protect individuals, but it also reduces a significant burden on the health care system. 

For more information on the influenza vaccine, please see the health unit’s vaccine fact sheets.

For more information on the influenza vaccine and common myths, check out the Canadian Pediatric Society’s video.

Vaccine coverage is the percentage of individuals in a specified group who are vaccinated against a certain disease.  High vaccine coverage leads to herd immunity, which protects us all.  

The Influenza Vaccine Coverage section contains the following pages:

Reporting Immunization Information:

Influenza immunization information is not routinely collected by public health, with the exception of health care workers in acute and long-term care facilities, long-term care residents and anyone who receives their vaccine at the health unit.

Influenza immunization coverage rates for the community are estimated through the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS).

For the number of cases of influenza in Simcoe Muskoka, see the HealthSTATS page on the incidence of influenza. Between November and April, the health unit publishes a Weekly Influenza News bulletin with up-to-date flu statistics.