Ah, mid-November, when falling leaves, pumpkin spice, gingerbread, and influenza are in peak season.

To help Canadians avoid that last element, Toronto-based digital health startup iamsick.ca has launched #bookaflushot, a campaign that invites users to book a free appointment at their local pharmacy through its app or website.

iamsick.ca president and founder Ryan Doherty encourages employers to take advantage by having their workers sign up for a flu shot today.

“It just takes one person to get the workplace sick,” Doherty, whose background is in biochemistry, tells ITBusiness.ca. “And for businesses worried about keeping their workforce healthy, it’s an easier solution than having on-site vaccinations.”

Founded in 2012, iamsick.ca allows Canadians across the country to easily find nearby pharmacists, medical practitioners, or health services, such as a family doctor accepting new patients or medical imaging centre, and book appointments online using its website or mobile app.

For #bookaflushot, the company is collaborating with retail pharmacies and other practitioners in more than 20 cities across Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Alberta to help users easily find a neighbouring facility that offers free flu shots.

As Doherty points out, it’s not just would-be patients who benefit from the convenience: Booking a shot through the app allows practitioners to plan in advance should there be a sudden increase in the number of patients.

“From the perspective of the pharmacist, they can manage their schedules,” he says. “Rather than a patient showing up while they’re filling prescriptions, they can prepare the vaccines in advance, or bring in a second pharmacist to help manage the workload.”

This year’s flu is expected to be the H3N2 strain, a version of swine and bird flu that causes the usual range of respiratory and physical symptoms associated with the virus, which killed an estimated 270 Canadians last season.

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