What is Influenza?
Influenza (the flu) is a serious illness. It is caused by influenza A and B viruses and occurs every year. Influenza causes fever, cough, headache, muscle soreness, sore throat and stuffy nose. Influenza can lead to pneumonia. It can also make other illnesses worse, especially chronic lung and heart disease.
Influenza spreads very easily from an infected person to others through coughing and sneezing. It is also spread by direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects such as unwashed hands, clothes, toys, eating utensils, etc. after they have been contaminated by the flu virus.
When should you get the Influenza (Flu) Vaccine?
Flu season occurs typically throughout the fall and winter months in Canada.
As the vaccine is effective for about 6 months, getting vaccinated before December will provide you with the best protection.
Influenza vaccine provides adults and children with active immunity against the influenza virus. It is not produced from human blood or blood products. It does often contains trace amounts of egg, so those with egg allergies should speak with their primary care provider about options for getting immunized.
The influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu because it does not contain live virus.
Where can you get the Flu vaccine?
The influenza vaccine is available through most pharmacies and primary care providers as of November 1.
Residents in long term care facilities may receive vaccine at their home in October.
Who should be immunized for influenza?
Everyone over 6 months of age is eligible for a free influenza immunization.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding are not considered contraindications to getting the vaccine.
How well does influenza vaccine protect against the flu?
You can still get the flu, but you will be less sick than if you were not vaccinated. In elderly people this vaccine can prevent pneumonia in about 6 out of 10 people and can prevent death in more than 8 out of 10 people.
Do not get the flu vaccine if you have any of the following:
- Under 6 months of age.
- Previous severe reactions to the Influenza vaccine.
- An active neurological disorder or a past history of Guillian-Barre Syndrome.
- Serious febrile illness (you can still have the vaccine if you have a mild infection without a fever).
To learn more about the Influenza Vaccine please go to The flu | ontario.ca