What to know about getting your flu shot during a pandemic

What to know about getting your flu shot during a pandemic

UPDATE: Ontario pharmacies are experiencing a flu vaccine shortage. Please check back regularly for updates from the Ministry of Health, and monitor our Flu Shot Supply post.


All DrugSmart Pharmacy locations are equipped to administer flu shots with your safety as our top priority.

There are two different flu shots available for the 2020/2021 season

  1. For ages 5+: The standard-dose vaccine protects against 4 strains of flu virus.
  2. For ages 65+: The high-dose vaccine protects against 3 strains of flu virus, but in higher doses.

Children under five years old cannot get a flu shot at a pharmacy. They can get their flu shot from a doctor, nurse practitioner or local public health unit.

Your flu shot experience will happen in three stages

Stage 1: Preparing for your flu shot

  1. Reserve your time slot. If you start to exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms you will need to cancel and reschedule your appointment. UPDATE: We are updating our availability calendar daily as we monitor our supply of the flu vaccine. If you're unable to book an appointment, please check back soon. Click here to learn more about booking a flu shot appointment.
  2. Complete a COVID-19 Self Assessment. Follow the directions based on your results.

Stage 2: Arriving at the pharmacy

  1. Wear your mask. A mask must be worn at all times when inside the pharmacy.
  2. Follow directional signage. Come to the pharmacy at the time of your appointment, and follow the directional arrows and signs.
  3. Maintain physical distancing. If there are people ahead of you or behind you, ensure you maintain a 2m (6 feet) distance.
  4. Undergo pre-screening. Additional screening questions will be asked once you arrive. This is also when you will need to complete your consent form.
  5. Ask any questions you may have. Our team is here to help and ensure you feel cared for. Please don't hesitate to ask us anything during this process. If you are required to wait you will be directed to a safe waiting area and in some cases may be asked to wait outside or in your vehicle until we're ready for you.

Stage 3: Getting your flu shot

  1. Go to the designated immunization area. Once the pharmacist has completed sanitizing the area from the previous patient, we will notify you that it is your turn. If you're in a waiting room, we will come get you. If you're outside or in your vehicle, we will call or text you (depending on your preference).
  2. Review your documentation with the pharmacist. Your pharmacist will review your documents to ensure we have everything we need and that all of your questions have been answered.
  3. Get your flu shot. Your pharmacist will be wearing PPE including eye protection and a surgical mask. They will sanitize their hands immediately before and after administering your flu shot. You will be asked to face away from the pharmacist when receiving your injection.
  4. Remain on-site for 15 minutes after your flu shot. As per public health requirements, you will need to wait for 15 minutes after your injection for observation. Your pharmacist will direct you to the designated waiting area. We will notify you once your 15 minutes are up, and will provide you with your record of immunization upon your request. Some situations require a longer observation time (e.g. if you're on blood thinner medication).



We're all hands on deck here at DrugSmart and are here to answer any questions you may have.
  • Call us toll-free: 1-833-DSP-CHAT
  • Send us an email:
  • Text us: 613-519-4208 (this is the same number we send out DrugSmart Rewards messages from)
  • Send us a message on our live chat (use the blue bubble in the bottom right of your screen!)

How is COVID-19 affecting flu season?


The Ontario government is implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario's history. The campaign is part of the province's comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. The plan, entitled Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, sets out a series of steps to prevent, identify and respond to any outbreak scenario this fall.
"We've been working through the summer to put in place a robust and comprehensive plan to tackle a potential, more challenging second wave of COVID-19," said Premier Ford. "It's important that we prepare for any scenario in order to protect all of our citizens, especially our seniors and most vulnerable. Our government is doing everything it can to defeat this deadly virus, including delivering an unprecedented flu shot campaign to maintain capacity in our hospitals."
The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:
  • Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
  • Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
  • Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
  • Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
  • Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario's history.
"Our government has been working directly alongside our partners on the frontlines to ensure the health system is ready to deal with any future waves of COVID-19," said Minister Elliott. "While our best defense continues to be our everyday actions to stop the spread, like practising physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill, we have developed a plan that prepares us for any eventuality, including the approaching flu and cold season."
The annual spread of the flu presents an additional challenge to Ontario's response to future waves of COVID-19. That's why the province is investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded campaign this year. Ontario has implemented several measures, such as:
  • Ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories, 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions;
  • Prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes;
  • Investing an additional $26.5 million to purchase additional flu vaccine doses if required and made available through the national vaccine bulk procurement program;
  • For the first time in Ontario's history, improving access by allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies; and
  • Launching a public education campaign to encourage getting the flu shot.
"The Ontario Pharmacists Association is very pleased that pharmacy professionals will have a significant role in the Ontario government's fall preparedness plan to protect Ontarians this year from flu and COVID-19," said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. "The Ontario government's decision to expand the high-dose flu vaccine program recognizes the high degree of accessibility of frontline pharmacy professionals, especially during the pandemic, as well as pharmacy's dramatic success story in boosting immunization rates against influenza."


  1. Ontario Set to Launch Largest Flu Immunization Campaign in Province's History | Office of the Premier of Ontario
  2. Flu Facts. | The Government of Ontario

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