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Influenza

What is the flu?

“The flu,” more properly known as seasonal influenza, is a common contagious infection. The flu affects the nose, throat, and lungs. It is spread through droplets that have come from someone who has the flu through their cough or sneeze. You can get the flu by shaking hands with someone who has the flu or by touching surfaces that have come into contact with flu droplets, and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Flu symptoms include a sudden fever or feeling feverish as well as a cough and/or a sore throat. It is common to also have a runny or stuffy nose, head- or body-aches, and chills. You may feel more tired than usual and have a lower appetite. Some people (mostly children) also have nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, there are approximately 3,500 deaths related to influenza on average each year in Canada.

Why should I get vaccinated?

You can help protect yourself against the flu by getting your flu vaccine. The earlier you get the vaccine, the better your chances are to prevent getting the flu. The flu is a viral infection that can have severe complications. Anyone can get the flu virus. The flu is not just a cold. You could miss school, work, parties, holidays, or even end up in the hospital.

The flu vaccine helps your body help itself. The vaccine will trigger your body to fight off infection if you come into contact with the flu. This means you either will not get the flu, or the symptoms will be greatly reduced. Each year, different strains of the flu virus appear. Scientists predict which strains will be most likely to affect us for the coming year. These strains are used to make up the year’s flu vaccine. This is why it is important to be immunized each fall.

Getting your flu vaccine is good for everyone. When more people get their flu vaccine, the odds of the flu virus spreading goes down. This protects those who are most vulnerable such as children under five, adults 65 years or older, pregnant women, as well as those living with chronic health conditions like diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

With the presence of COVID-19, it is very important that we do not overwhelm our hospitals. The more people that get the flu vaccine, the fewer people will get sick with the flu, and the fewer people that will need to be hospitalized with the flu. This helps prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed. The simple act of getting your flu shot can help save lives.

What else can I do to prevent the flu?

In addition to getting your flu vaccine, you can help stop the spread of the flu, and protect yourself and your family by following a few easy steps:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you are sick, stay at home
  • Do not visit hospitalized patients or residents of retirement homes or long-term care homes if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

What will the flu season look like this year?

For updates on flu surveillance in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark, visit our Outbreak Status Report section.

Where can I get my flu vaccination?

It is easier than ever to get your flu vaccine. Anyone aged six months and older who lives, works or attends school in Ontario is eligible to receive the publicly funded flu vaccine.

For people aged 6 months to 4 years, you can get your flu vaccine from:

  • Your primary care provider (e.g., family doctor or nurse practitioner).
  • Children under 5 years old cannot get a flu shot at a pharmacy.

For people aged 5–64 years, you can get your flu vaccine from:

  • Your primary care provider (e.g., family doctor or nurse practitioner).
  • A participating pharmacy.

For people aged 65 and older, you can get your flu vaccine from:

  • Your primary care provider (e.g., family doctor or nurse practitioner).
  • A participating pharmacy.

For the 2020/2021 season, if you’re age 65 and older, there are two different flu shots available – standard dose and high-dose. The standard-dose vaccine protects against four strains of flu virus. The high-dose vaccine, (also called “Fluzone® HighDose”) protects against three strains of flu virus, but in higher doses.

Health care providers, retirement homes, and long-term care facilities will be providing influenza immunization for high-risk groups starting in October.

All health care providers in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark are participating in the flu vaccine program. If you don’t have a health care provider, you can get a flu vaccine from your local pharmacy. Vaccine supply is shipped regularly, so if they are out when you call, try again next week. If you are looking for a flu vaccine for a child under 5 years old and don’t have a health care provider, call us at 1-800-660-5853.

Visit the Government of Ontario website for more information.

What flu vaccines are available this year?

The standard-dose vaccine protects against four strains of flu virus. The high-dose vaccine, (also called “Fluzone® HighDose”) protects against three strains of flu virus, but in higher doses.

The flu vaccines available this year are:

  • IIV4-SD (commonly known as QIV – Multi Dose) – FluLaval® Tetra, Fluzone®
  • IIV4-cc (commonly known as QIV – Pre Filled Syringes) – Fluzone® Flucelvax®
  • IIV3 High Dose (commonly known as High Dose TIV) – Fluzone® High Dose. Fluzone® High-Dose is a trivalent influenza vaccine only authorized for those 65 years of age and older.

Is the flu vaccine safe?

The flu vaccine is safe for anyone 6 months of age or older who does not have a contraindication to the flu vaccine.

Flu vaccine is contraindicated in persons who had an anaphylactic reaction to the flu vaccine or to a component of the flu vaccine before. If you had an anaphylactic reaction to a flu vaccine before, a consultation with an allergist is recommended prior to flu vaccination. Persons with egg allergy can safely receive any influenza vaccine and do not need any special precautions or testing.

How do I know the difference between a cold and the flu?

Many people confuse the terms “cold” and “flu”. Influenza (flu) is a respiratory viral infection that can lead to severe complications. The flu is not just a cold. You could miss school, work, parties, holidays, or even end up in the hospital. Here is a list of common symptoms of the flu compared with a common cold.

What can I do to ease my symptoms if I have the flu?

If you have flu-like symptoms, including a fever, a cough, severe headache and/or chills, be sure to:

  • Rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • Take basic pain or fever relievers if needed.

When should I contact the doctor or go to the emergency room?

Contact your doctor if symptoms are severe and do not improve after a few days.

Use this resource to help you identify your symptoms.

When is it too late to get vaccinated?

As long as flu is still circulating in the community and there is still flu vaccine available from your health care provider, you should get vaccinated.