Dealing with health problems during the holidays? There is help close to home!

As winter approaches each year, we all become potential victims of the flu. Fever, fatigue, headaches—and concern for your child or loved ones—may leave you looking for medical advice. Going to the Emergency Room is not always the right solution. The best thing to do in the case of the flu, or any other health problem, is to first to call Info-Santé at 8-1-1. Info-Santé will respond and give you advice 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

Advice from Info-Santé (8-1-1) and your pharmacist
Info-Santé nurses are specially trained to give you advice and direct you to the appropriate health resources, if necessary. When it comes to flu symptoms, they can determine whether someone is at risk of complications and evaluate whether and when the person needs to see a doctor. Info-Santé nurses can also provide you with the schedules and contact information of walk-in clinics on the Island, South Shore and North Shore of Montreal.
You can also talk to your pharmacist for sound advice on preventing and treating a range of minor health problems. Pharmacists can help you choose over-the-counter medications (for the cold or flu, pain relief, rehydratation in the case of stomach flu, insomnia, digestive problems, etc.) and can give you advice if you decide to stop smoking.

Consulting a doctor
If Info-Santé recommends that you see a doctor, make an appointment with your family doctor first. If you do not have a family doctor, go to a network clinic. About thirty network clinics are available on the Island of Montreal. They are open every day of the year, even on Christmas and New Year's Day (for 12 hours during week days and 8 hours on weekends and holidays). They offer quick access to X-ray services and blood tests or other tests. Network clinics are an excellent alternative to Emergency Rooms for minor health problems.
To consult the list of network clinics, visit the Santé Montréal Portal at Before you go to a clinic, call to verify its hours.

For emergencies and emergencies only
If your or a loved one's life is in danger, or if Info-Santé directs you to an Emergency Room, call 9-1-1 or go to the closet Emergency Department. Note that Emergency wait times can vary depending on the severity of cases and the number of people waiting.

Preventing the flu: simple hygiene practices
The holiday season is a great time to get together with family and friends. Unfortunately, gifts are not the only things we share, as the flu spreads quickly. Simple hygiene practices can help reduce the spread of the flu:
1- Wash your hands often.
2- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or shoulder instead of your hands.
Get vaccinated: there's still time!
Vaccination is the best protection against the flu. The flu vaccine is free to people who are at risk of complications:
  • People 60 years and older
  • Children 6 to 23 months
  • Women who are pregnant (2nd or 3rd trimester) or breastfeeding
  • People with a chronic disease (including people with severe obesity, with a Body Mass Index equal to or above 40)
  • Anyone who comes into close contact with these groups, including people who care for children under the age of 6 months, as well as workers and volunteers in contact with at-risk people
To get vaccinated, you can go to your family doctor, a medical clinic or a CSSS (health and social services centre).
More information and resources