Think you need antibiotics?

Think Twice. Seek Advice.

Unnecessary antibiotic use is contributing to a rise in resistant bacteria, making infections much harder, and increasingly impossible to treat. Antibiotic Awareness Week, November 18 – 24, promotes the informed use of antibiotics by all to help keep life-saving medicines effective for future generations.


Antibiotic resistance is one of the most urgent health threats we face globally.

Why Think Twice, and Seek Advice?

Antibiotics don’t work against common cold and flu viruses and are often unnecessary for some bacterial infections. Despite these facts, inappropriate antibiotic prescription remains common in Canada–estimated at over 30% of all prescriptions, and 50% of prescriptions for respiratory infections.

As drug-resistant infections increase, it is clear that Canadians need to ‘rethink’ and learn about antibiotics. We must consider the risks alongside the benefits of antibiotics. We must ask questions to understand where we can reduce needless antibiotic use.  

What are antibiotics and antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotics are life-saving medications that we rely on to prevent and treat many infections caused by bacteria. But when bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, they adapt and develop characteristics that allow them to fend off or disable antibiotics. Greater exposure to antibiotics accelerates these changes. Bacteria that develop resistance are not killed and continue to multiply. Resistant bacteria are difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat.

What are the consequences of antibiotic resistance?

By 2050, if we continue using antibiotics as we are now, approximately 10 million people worldwide will die from resistant organisms each year—more than the number of deaths caused by cancer. 

In Canada, a growing number of infections are not responding to antibiotics. Tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and urinary tract infections are becoming harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat.  In some provinces, experts estimate that tens of thousands of illnesses per year result from resistant bacteria.

Without effective antibiotics, other treatments will also become risky. Patients requiring surgery and chemotherapy will be poorly protected from the risks of life-threatening infections.

What you can do!

One of the best ways to combat antibiotic resistance is to ask questions—will an antibiotic help? Patients, talk to your prescriber. Practitioners, consult guidelines and experts in optimal prescribing.  

Learn more from the resources shared by partners on this collaborative campaign.

2019 Campaign Themes


Sinus Aches

Cough or Cold


Cloudy Urine


You can help combat antibiotic resistance!


Become informed about appropriate antibiotic use and share the resources below. Learn from the personal stories of those harmed by drug-resistant bacteria and share their stories to make others aware of the human costs of antibiotic misuse and overuse.


AntibioticWise provides videos and answers to your questions about antibiotics, their proper use, and antibiotic resistance. Learn about when and when not to use antibiotics.

Sometimes No Antibiotic is the Best Prescription

This short video for patients explores when you may not need antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections and what patients can do to feel better without antibiotics.

Do Bugs Need Drugs? Parents’ Guide

Parents, this guide helps you build knowledge on appropriate antibiotic use for your child. Learn what symptoms signal the need for medical attention and the best way to stop the spread of infections. Available in 7 languages. Coming soon in Cree!

Public Health Ontario

These five infographics provide guidance on when antibiotics are not needed for some common infections.  Topics include: Do you need antibiotics?  Ear infection, Sinus infection, Sore throat, and Bronchitis.

Antibiotics for cold and flu symptoms?

This handy infographic from the Pharmacy5in5 team at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy provides information on the appropriate use of antibiotics for common respiratory tract infections.

Antibiotics and the Zoo Living In You

The microbiome is an important environment of trillions of organisms living on and within you. Watch this video to learn how antibiotics can disrupt this delicate ecosystem and what you can do to protect your microbiome.

Using Antibiotics Wisely

A series of pamphlets from Choosing Wisely Canada focused on reducing unnecessary antibiotic use.  Topics include respiratory infections, available in 7 languages, and suspected urinary tract infections, common among older adults.

Patients for Patient Safety Canada

The patient-led program of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute launches a new website in support of World Antibiotic Awareness Week. Visit the webpage for real-life experiences, tools and resources developed specifically for patients and the public.

Public Health Agency of Canada

Canada’s leading public health authority provides information on antibiotic resistance, its causes, risks to human health, and the correct use of antibiotics.  Learn how the Canadian government tracks and responds to this critical public health challenge.

What is antimicrobial resistance?

This whiteboard video explains antimicrobial resistance and what it means to be a ‘steward’ of antibiotics.

Say Naaah, Dental campaign

Learn more about the use of antibiotics in dental care, and why they may not be needed for every condition.

Antibiotic Wise Quiz

Quiz your knowledge on appropriate antibiotic use and possible consequences of misuse.

What you need to know about penicillin?

AntibioticWise explains that true penicillin allergies are rare. Learn why an evaluation of your suspected allergy could lead to more effective treatment for your infection and greater protection from drug-resistance. Learn more here.


What happens when antibiotics stop working?

Learn about the possible harms of drug-resistant bacteria from those who have experienced an infection during a hospital stay, while traveling, or from an unknown source in their community.

Let these stories inspire you to learn and do more to use antibiotics wisely. Share them to help build awareness.

Mary’s Story

Mary’s story began with a post-surgical infection. Her experience reminds us that Canadians are at risk for resistant infections, and our older family members are vulnerable with extended use of antibiotics. Read her full story.

➤ SHARE her story: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Lill-Karin’s Story

Lill-Karin, Norway, caught a bacterial infection resistant to many antibiotics after an accident and a hospital stay while on holiday abroad. Read her story.

➤ SHARE her story: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Paolo’s story

Paolo fell ill with a severe urinary infection with an E.coli resistant to many antibiotics. It took two months, and three courses of different antibiotics before doctors were able to treat Paolo’s infection successfully. Read his story.

➤ SHARE his story: Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Tatiana’s Story

Tatiana was a healthy 25-year-old newlywed when a resistant infection turned her life upside down. Read or watch her story of quarantine, many weeks of treatment, and long-lasting effects. This is one of many stories shared by the Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter campaign.

Share Your Story

Join the Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition, a community united by the common goal of combating the global threat of antimicrobial resistance. Participants express their commitment by declaring “I’m a resistance fighter” and describing how they are taking personal responsibility to combat AMR.  Share your story.


Healthcare professionals are responsible for the appropriate use of antibiotics.


When you believe antibiotics are necessary, you and your team ensure patients get the right drug, at the right time, at the right dose, and for the shortest effective duration. Your actions promote quality patient care and protect public health.

Download and share tools and resources to help improve antibiotic use and reduce harm to Canadians from antibiotic resistance.


A Call to Action

The Antimicrobial Resistance Policy, issued by the Canadian Medical Association and AMMI Canada, presents recommendations for targeted awareness promotion in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Learn about your role in controlling AMR.  Download here.

Using Antibiotics Wisely Campaign

Choosing Wisely Canada provides practice change recommendations for practitioners in primary care, hospital and long-term care settings. Prescription handouts (viral prescription & delayed prescription), posters for waiting rooms, and other downloadable patient resources.

Clinical Points

The Public Health Agency of Canada builds awareness of the higher likelihood of unnecessary prescribing to older adults for specific conditions. They feature key clinical points on asymptomatic bacteriuria, upper respiratory infections, and vaccination. Learn more.

Rethink Antibiotic Prescribing

Pharmacy5in5 is an online learning platform designed by pharmacists, popular for its innovative digital tools for all healthcare professionals.  Check out their short video on antibiotic prescribing and related infographic.

Symptom-Free Pee: Let It Be

Help stop inappropriate antibiotic use for asymptomatic bacteriuria in long-term care residents and elderly patients in acute care.  Download bilingual resources, freely available for use in your practice setting.

Viral Prescription Pads

To be used with patients who have a suspected viral infection, this time-saving educational tool provides information about symptomatic relief and indicates when to consider a return visit. Adult and child versions are available. Order free copies here.

Antibiotic Awareness Week Blog Post

Not sure what to do for Antibiotic Awareness Week? Here are some Ideas from Public Health Ontario.

Antimicrobial Stewardship in Primary Care (Online Course)

Produced by the University of Waterloo, this series of multimedia modules provides general principles for antimicrobial stewardship for all community-based practitioners. It includes strategies to optimize antimicrobial use in a variety of common clinical scenarios. Click here for more information or to register.

Antimicrobial Stewardship Essentials

Practical, evidence-based information on how to promote antimicrobial stewardship in a range of healthcare settings, from Public Health Ontario. Learn more.

Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs Chat (#ASPChat)

A real-time Twitter Chat promotes appropriate antibiotic use and stewardship in practice. Chats are open to all and run on the third Thursday of each month from 7-8 PM EST.  In November, the topic is awareness raising. Follow @ASP_chat for information.


Healthcare providers and public health leaders are witnessing the human and health system costs of antibiotic resistance, in Canada and around the world.

Their stories illustrate how important it is to adopt effective practices and policies.  Read and share their stories to act on the threat of antibiotic and antimicrobial resistance.

The 7 Minutes

Prince County Hospital ER is a shining star on wise antibiotic use for the province of PEI. The 7 minutes spent explaining why a patient doesn’t need antibiotics is worth it. Watch it here.

You get the virus, you need a virus plan

Peters Wayne, Dr. Navqui and Greg Burton, community pharmacists from PEI, share their experiences with antibiotic prescription, advice to patients regarding antibiotic use, and antibiotic use in long-term care facilities. Watch it here.


Sarah Lutes, a hospital pharmacist in PEI, shares her story about community acquired pneumonia (CAP) and how Health PEI’s development of guidelines helped to stop unwise prescribing of Moxifloxacin. Watch it here.

Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Stories

Dr. Yoav Keynan

Scientific Lead, National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases

David Patrick, MD

Professor, School of Population and Public Health University of British Columbia

Paul-Émile Cloutier

President and CEO, HealthCareCAN


Share Your Story

Join the Antimicrobial Resistance Fighter Coalition, a community united by the common goal of combating the global threat of AMR. Participants express their commitment by declaring “I’m a resistance fighter” and describing how they are taking personal responsibility to combat AMR. Share your story. Learn more.


Join global campaign leaders in raising awareness for antimicrobial resistance during World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

Antimicrobial resistance (including antibiotic resistance) is one of the most urgent public health challenges of our time.  A collaborative global approach is necessary, and Canada must engage.  

In support of this alliance, Canada’s campaign coincides with World Antibiotic Awareness Week and other campaigns around the globe. 

Canadians are invited to join the international movement mobilizing against antimicrobial resistance. Start by learning what global campaign leaders have to say about appropriate antibiotic use.


World Antibiotic Awareness Week / World Health Organization / Food and Agriculture Organization / World Organisation for Animal Health


U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


European Antibiotic Awareness Day / European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


Antibiotic Guardian / Public Health England



Compelled to act by increasing harm from drug-resistant infections, a national network of partners supports this campaign for the informed use of antibiotics.

In Canada, the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) leads Antibiotic Awareness Week (AAW).  With funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, NCCID brings together several national and regional leaders in areas of public health, quality healthcare, antibiotic and antimicrobial stewardship, patient safety, and infection prevention and control.  The many committed partners who advise on this campaign are listed below. 

Together, these leaders amplify an urgent message for healthcare providers and the public.  We are all asked to Think Twice, to question assumptions about whether an antibiotic is needed, and to Seek Advice from experts on appropriate use. Is an antibiotic necessary?  Which antibiotic is best? What dose and duration are sufficient? 

AAW shines a light on areas of common antibiotic misuse and overuse, like respiratory infections, where up to half of antibiotic prescriptions may be unnecessary. The campaign calls on everyone because we all have a role and a stake in preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics and safeguarding public health.

Follow @CentreInfection, like and share messages throughout the campaign.

Contact NCCID to learn more about the current campaign.


Join the campaign!

For more information, or to partner on the campaign, please contact the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases.


Partners |  Twitter: @AMMICanada | Twitter: @antibioticwise | Twitter: @AMResistance | Twitter: @canadanurses | Twitter: @Patient_Safety | Twitter: @CPhAAPhC | Twitter: @ChooseWiselyCA | Twitter: @DoBugsNeedDrugs | Twitter: @HealthCareCAN | Twitter: @IPACCanada | Twitter: @centreinfection | Twitter: @patients4safety | Twitter: @GovCanHealth and @CPHO_Canada | Twitter: @PublicHealthON | Twitter: @QualityofCareNL


Sinai Health System-University Health Network | Twitter: @SHSUHNASP | Twitter: @UWPharmacy and @pharmacy5in5


Production of this website has been made possible through a financial contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Agency.