WINDSOR, ONT. -- With the arrival of flu season, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is urging people to get their annual flu shot.

The health unit says the flu results in around 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada, and the flu shot “is the best way to protect yourself, and those around you, from the influenza virus.”

“It is important to protect yourself from COVID-19 by following public health measures. However, it is also important to protect yourself from influenza by getting the flu vaccine,” said medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed.

Young children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma are at a greater risk of serious illness from influenza complications, WECHU says.

Last year’s flu season saw 180 lab confirmed cases of the fly in Windsor-Essex. To date, there have been no confirmed cases yet this season.

The health unit says each year the flu vaccine is developed to match the most common strains of the virus which changes year to year.

Starting this week, the flu vaccine will be available at participating pharmacies, health care providers, and walk-in clinics. Pharmacies are only able to immunize individuals that are five years of age and older, while the shot can be given to those older than six months.

Flu symptoms typically include the sudden onset of fever, cough, and muscle aches and are more severe than the common cold.

WECHU says other measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of the flu include washing your hands often, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, sneezing and coughing into one’s sleeve or a tissue, not touching your face, and staying home when you’re sick.