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Flu season expected to peak over the holidays, but there's still time to get a vaccine

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The flu season is underway and it is expected to peak over the holidays.

Ontario's top doctor is warning people to get vaccinated before the holidays, as it takes up to two weeks for immunity from the shot to build.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says swine flu is the most detected strain this season.

"Influenza is a really nasty virus," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and scientist. "We know that it can have a very negative impact on younger cohorts, on older cohorts, and on people who are immunocompromised."

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore says people should be vaccinated against both the flu and COVID-19.

"I'm a teacher and the flu is going around," said Richard McGrath, who is getting his shot soon. "Lots of people have the virus and they're still getting it unfortunately."

Influenza is expected to peak soon as cases continue to build.

"Sometime in late December or early January," said Bogoch. "We are going to see more and more of that in the weeks ahead. So unfortunately in the health care settings, it's going to be a very busy holiday season."

With Christmas just two weeks away, health officials say now is the time to get the shot.

"A lot of people at school are getting sick," said Jackie Newhouse, an Ottawa resident. "Every day there's at least three people absent because they're sick or something."

Other tips to stay healthy include wearing a mask in large public settings, washing your hands, and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

There is also a vaccine for RSV this year. Health Canada has approved that vaccine for people 60 and older, but it is only available free of charge to people in that age group who are living in long-term care homes, elder care lodges, and retirement homes licensed to provide dementia care services. 

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