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UHN's Flu Campaign is back, and this year, getting a shot gives TeamUHN members a shot at the Raptors or Leafs.
Beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 11, flu shot stations will be set up at designated entrances of UHN sites. TeamUHN members who get a vaccine there – or at an outside site and report it to UHN Health Services – will be entered into a random draw for tickets to a Toronto Maple Leafs or Toronto Raptors game.
Thank you to UHN Foundation and The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation for their generous support with the grand prizes. Of course, it wouldn't be a flu campaign without chips and full-sized chocolate bars, which will be available to TeamUHN members who roll up their sleeve at a UHN flu shot station.
From Oct. 11 to 25, TeamUHN members who get vaccinated at a UHN flu shot station will be automatically entered into the draw. Those who get their shot through a family physician, local pharmacy or
public health units, have until Oct. 31 to report it to Health Services to be entered.
Tamara Dus, Senior Director of UHN Health Services, is excited to again be "making vaccines available in designated hospital lobbies to make it more convenient for people."
"The provincial flu campaign has increased availability with community pharmacies, so that staff who are not working on site can obtain it easier," Tamara adds.
"I would encourage staff to promote this option to their family members too."
This year, we expect to see increased cases of flu in our community. This is due in part to more people being out than in recent years during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reduced masking.
"Vaccination can prevent acquisition of the virus, and if you do pick it up, it can reduce the severity of the illness," says Dr. Alon Vaisman, a physician with UHN Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC). "It also reduces the likelihood of other individuals, who are more vulnerable than you, from acquiring the infection and getting sick."
What is different this year?
Dr. Vaisman points out "the only major difference this year is that we anticipate more influenza cases compared to last year. Since the 2020-2021 winter season, when flu was nearly unseen, we've observed a subsequent steady rise in cases each year."
Tamara says the "goal is to decrease the burden of illness for our staff, their families and our patients so that we can all remain healthy this winter."
Apart from the flu shot stations across UHN hospital locations and the chance to win Leafs or Raptors tickets, COVID-19 booster eligibility cards will be handed at the flu shot stations, where members of TeamUHN can scan a QR code to check booster eligibility and information on booking a booster.
"We are not sure what to expect from COVID – but what we do know is that the mortality associated with infection has dropped considerably over the last three years and there is more widespread immunity," explains Dr. Vaisman.
According to other regions who have experienced the influenza wave, such as Australia, it has been noted "the flu experience has shown a disproportionate number of children being impacted," Dr. Vaisman says. "They also saw an increased number of cases compared to prior years."
It is important to wash your hands often, mask in the hospital where required and maintain physical distancing as much as possible. Most importantly, stay home if you're feeling unwell.
"In short, vaccination protects you and those around you," Dr. Vaisman says.