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Fall flu preparedness tips by Alliston, Ont. hospital

Fall flu shots in a file photo. Fall flu shots in a file photo.

The official start of fall is just over a week away.

And as temperatures fall, more time will be spent indoors in close contact with others kick-starting the flu season.

This year, the medical community warns people to expect the spread of respiratory viruses such as Influenza, COVID-19, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and the common cold.

Alliston’s Stevenson Memorial Hospital (SMH) wants to advise people about flu preparedness and minimize the risk of contracting these viruses.

“There are several things we can do to help prepare for the onset of flu season and to decrease the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and RSV,” said Dr. Barry Nathanson, Interim Chief of Staff at Stevenson. “A proactive approach is always a good defence against these viruses, which we confidently anticipate will spike in the coming months.”

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has the following information about preventative measures, such as vaccines, hand hygiene, and masks, and what to do if you become ill.


It’s essential to stay up-to-date with vaccinations, including booster doses. Ontarians are eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster if six months have passed since their last booster or COVID-19 infection.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has shared that new formulations of the COVID-19 vaccine are being developed for the fall to help protect individuals from the most current strains of the virus. These should be available in October.

The current flu vaccine has been formulated and is typically available in October.

To maximize your protection, it is safe—and recommended by the CDC-- for both the flu vaccine and a COVID-19 vaccine to be received at the same time.

RSV is usually considered a risk for children under one year of age, but seniors are also at increased risk of severe illness caused by RSV.

A vaccine has been authorized for use in Canada for the prevention of lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in adults 60 years of age and older. There is no vaccine against RSV to protect children, but there are treatments that can be given to babies at the highest risk to help prevent RSV-related illness and complications.

Hand Hygiene

Stevenson hospital recommends washing your hands often using proper hand hygiene. Washing with soap and water for at least 15 seconds will help keep COVID-19 and other viruses from making you sick and prevent the spread of these viruses. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer instead.

Other preventative measures

Disinfect high-touch surfaces in your home, such as doorknobs, TV remotes, and water taps. Spend more time outdoors where there is a lower risk of contracting or spreading viruses.

Personal Protective Equipment – mask

Wearing a mask, specifically an N-95 or properly fitting KN-95 mask, while in close contact with others and crowded indoor spaces helps protect people from contracting these viruses and does help stop their spread.

Wearing a mask is strongly encouraged for anyone at a higher risk of infection, specifically those over age 60 and those with high-risk medical conditions or immuno-compromised.

What to do if you get sick

Symptoms of the flu, COVID-19, RSV and the common cold can all be quite similar, so it is recommended to complete COVID-19 testing if you develop symptoms such as sore throat, cough, congestion, and runny nose.

When experiencing these symptoms, please respect others’ rights to health and safety. If you believe you have COVID-19 or if you test positive, stay home and self-isolate. Inform household members and close contacts.

Rapid antigen test kits are free at the public health unit (while supplies last).

These are recommended for individuals at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, such as those over age 60 and those with medical conditions or immuno-compromised.

An effective oral anti-viral Paxlovid medication is available for these higher-risk groups. Paxlovid must be taken early in the course of infection to be effective. Make sure to test and seek medical guidance quickly if your test is positive. Paxlovid is not suitable for everyone at high risk, so medical advice is important if it is to be effective and safe.

For more information on receiving an anti-viral treatment (such as Paxlovid), please get in touch with your healthcare provider, including a physician, nurse practitioner or a participating pharmacist or visit

Guidance for Pregnant Individuals

Pregnant individuals are at higher risk of significant complications of the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 vaccination has been shown to be safe and effective in this population. Influenza vaccination has also been shown to be safe and effective in pregnant individuals and helps protect the baby from influenza in the first several months after birth.

For more information, check out the Fall Preparedness pages online at Stevenson Memorial Hospital Top Stories

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