Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling for parents to encourage their children to get the flu vaccine despite a decision by the provincial government to keep COVID-19 mandatory for anyone aged nine and under.
“I think you can do both at the same time, because people from 9 to 16 are potentially most at risk if they don’t get the flu shot this year,” said Tory, who was joined at the Pearson International Airport by Mark McPhail, head of Toronto Public Health.
READ MORE: Health Canada tells Canadians to get their flu shots, despite region’s move
Tory said he understands why the vaccine is not required as a vaccination requirement, but that parents should at least talk to their children about it. He warned the flu “can be a very serious threat” to children.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 91,000 people across Canada had been hospitalized and 1,095 people had died from the flu since the beginning of the 2018-19 season.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said all 338 schools in the city had reached their full vaccination targets on Friday.
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Flu vaccines are required in Ontario for people aged nine and over, and mandatory for children enrolled in public daycare.
According to the TDSB, 26,480 people have received the vaccine at 63% of schools in the city this season.
Timing for students to get their flu shots at school has been critical to dealing with the outbreak, but all schools will require it next week, officials said.
READ MORE: Must-know information on the flu
The move comes after TDSB cancelled three weeks worth of school time on Feb. 13 and 24 due to a high number of school-aged students affected by the flu.
TDSB Chair Robin Pilkey said in a statement earlier this month that students who come down with the flu should be removed from school during symptoms and sent home to recover.
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More information about getting the flu shot in Toronto is available here.