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October 18, 2023

Safeguarding Our Communities This Respiratory Season

Hastings and Prince Edward Counties/Oct. 18, 2023

A joint statement from the Hastings Prince Edward Ontario Health Team, Quinte Health and Hastings Prince Edward Public Health.

Residents of Hastings and Prince Edward counties are encouraged to take preventative measures to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses. Once residents become eligible, they are urged to roll up their sleeves to defend against influenza and COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health has announced that flu vaccine will become available to the general public on October 30 and it is expected that updated COVID-19 vaccine will be available around the same time. Certain groups are eligible for vaccines now. Until you become eligible, residents can protect themselves by practicing the following:

  • Frequent handwashing: Wash your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitizer (with at least 60 per cent alcohol) especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Cover your mouth and nose: Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of used tissues in a lined trash can immediately.
  • Limit close contact: Stay away from people who are sick, and if you are sick, stay home to avoid spreading the illness. Maintain physical distancing from others in public settings if you are unwell or around those who are unwell.
  • Consider wearing a mask: When you are in close proximity to others, especially in indoor or crowded settings, wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of respiratory droplets. Wear a mask in public settings when recovering from respiratory illness or if you have symptoms.
  • Practice respiratory etiquette: Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth, with unwashed hands. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces regularly.
  • Boost your immune system: Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep to support your immune system.
  • Hydrate and rest: If you do get sick, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and avoid contact with others until you are symptom-free for at least 24 hours.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others. Here are some important reasons for getting the latest flu and COVID shots when they become available.

  • Protection from serious illness: Getting vaccinated significantly reduces your risk of falling seriously ill from both the flu and COVID-19. It’s like putting on armour to shield yourself from these potentially life-threatening diseases.
  • Protect the vulnerable: When you get vaccinated, you’re not just looking out for yourself – you’re also protecting the most vulnerable members of our community. The elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those who cannot receive vaccines depend on community immunity to stay safe.
  • Build our community immunity: Vaccination is a powerful tool to protect the public’s health. It helps us control the spread of infectious diseases and prevents outbreaks that could overwhelm our healthcare systems.
  • Protect the health care system: Getting vaccinated reduces your risk of severe illness and helps ensure that local health care providers and emergency departments have capacity to serve those who need it most.

Quotes from our local health leaders:

“Vaccines continue to be the most effective way to reduce risk of severe illness associated with both flu and COVID-19. Protect each other this fall and winter by rolling up your sleeves and getting the flu shot at your local health care provider or getting either shot at many local pharmacies.”  Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health and CEO, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

“As a community, our collective health is a shared responsibility. Getting vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19 is a vital step towards keeping our loved ones safe and our health care system strong. By taking these shots, we build a shield of protection that extends across our beautiful region, protecting those most vulnerable among us.” – Dr. Colin MacPherson, Chief of Staff, Quinte Health

“Vaccination is a critical tool for protecting already strained health services by preventing the spread of respiratory illness, reducing hospitalizations, and preserving the health of our dedicated frontline care providers. Let’s collectively take action to safeguard our local healthcare services.” – Dr. Rob Pincock, Primary Care Co-Lead, Hastings Prince Edward Ontario Health Team

For information on where to get the flu shot, visit www.ontario.ca/page/flu-facts or www.hpePublicHealth.ca. Residents are encouraged to seek the flu shot through their primary care provider or a local pharmacy.

For information on where to get the latest COVID-19 shot, including participating pharmacies, visit https://www.ontario.ca/vaccine-locations/ or www.hpePublicHealth.ca.  Residents are encouraged to seek the vaccine at local pharmacies if possible.


Media Contacts:

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
Maureen Hyland
Communications Specialist

Quinte Health
Catherine Walker,
Manager, Communications

About Hastings Prince Edward Public Health

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) is a public health agency that serves the counties of Hastings and Prince Edward from four local offices. HPEPH is situated and provides services on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee people. We monitor the health of our local population, deliver programs and services within our communities, and help develop healthy public policies. We provide information and support in many areas to help improve the health and well-being of our residents. Together with our communities, we help people become as healthy as they can be. For more information, please visit hpePublicHealth.ca. You can also find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

We invite community partners and residents to share this Media Release with their respective networks.

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