Flu (Influenza) Vaccines
Revised September 2019
FluLaval Tetra, Fluzone®, Afluria® Tetra, Fluzone® High-Dose
Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu or reduce the risk of complications. The vaccine is around 50 per cent effective in healthy children and adults. How well the vaccine works depends on a person’s immune system and the match between the circulating flu viruses and the flu vaccine. The vaccine can provide some cross-protection even when the match is not exact. The vaccine is still the best protection against the flu.
High-dose flu vaccine is free for adults 65 years and older. It provides better protection against influenza A than the standard vaccine. Influenza A, H3N2 can make seniors very sick.
This year the nasal spray vaccine is not available in Canada. Children will receive the vaccine that protects against four strains.
Side Effects and Risks
Flu vaccines are safe and well-tolerated. Reactions are usually mild. Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. Some people may have a headache, fever, muscle aches and tiredness. Symptoms last only a few days with standard vaccine. Side effects may be worse and last a bit longer with high-dose vaccine.
In rare cases, serious allergic (anaphylactic) reactions such as trouble breathing, rash, swelling of the face and throat may occur. Allergic reactions can be treated and are usually temporary. The risk of Oculo-Respiratory Syndrome or Guillain-Barré Syndrome after flu vaccination is very low, about one case in a million flu shots.
Not for Individuals with:
- an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to previous flu vaccination
- allergies to neomycin or polymyxin B for Afluria® Tetra vaccine only
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome within six weeks of a flu vaccination
Individuals with a history of Oculo-Respiratory Syndrome can get the vaccine but should speak with their doctor first. Delay getting the vaccine if you are sick or have a fever.
The flu virus can be circulated by droplets from talking, sneezing or coughing. The virus can also spread from touching infected doorknobs and toys. Young children, seniors and persons with weak immunity can get very sick from flu infection, needing hospital care. The risk of getting Guillain-Barré Syndrome following flu infection is much higher than flu vaccination.
Talk to your health care provider or call our Immunization line at 416-392-1250.