Get your yearly flu vaccine and updated COVID-19 vaccine, as soon as you are eligible, to protect you and your loved ones this respiratory season.

Influenza Vaccines

The publicly-funded Influenza (flu) vaccines this year are FluLaval Tetra, Fluzone® QIV, Fluzone® QIV-HD, Fluad® TIV-adj.

Influenza Illness

Influenza virus (the flu) is a virus that spreads very easily that can infect the nose, throat and lungs. It is caused by influenza A and B viruses. The flu is spread by droplets from people who are sick with the virus through a cough, sneeze or talking. These droplets can land in the mouths, noses or eyes of people who are close, within a two metre distance.

The symptoms are sudden onset of fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough, headaches, chills, muscle aches, feeling tired, and loss of appetite. In children, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can occur. Children under five years of age, pregnant people, older adults, and people with health conditions are at the most risk of getting very sick. Getting the flu vaccine each year is the best way to prevent the flu. Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to protect yourself against getting very sick.

Vaccine Benefits

Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months and older. How much protection the vaccine gives depends on a person’s immune system and the match with the virus strains spreading that year.

The vaccine provides some protection even when the match is not exact. Flu vaccines are about 50% effective in preventing the flu in healthy adults. The vaccine also reduces the risk of serious flu complications by 50 per cent. The flu vaccine cannot make you sick from influenza because it does not contain any live virus. It takes two weeks for your body to develop an immune response from the vaccine.

Children under the age of nine years old who are getting the flu vaccine for the first time need a second dose at least four weeks after the first dose.

Vaccines for Adults 65+

The flu can make older adults very sick. There are two vaccines (Fluzone® QIV-HD, Fluad® TIV-adj) approved just for seniors to give better protection against the flu. Both vaccines may cause soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given, lasting a few days longer than the standard flu vaccine.

The most important thing is for older adults to be vaccinated. Do not delay vaccination to wait for a particular vaccine product.

Pregnant People

The flu is more likely to cause illness that results in hospitalization in pregnant people than in people of reproductive age who are not pregnant. The flu may also be harmful for the developing baby. The flu vaccine is safe and recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding people to reduce the risk of getting very sick from the flu. Vaccination can also protect the fetus and newborn.

Side Effects and Risks

It is much safer to get the flu vaccine than to get the flu. Flu vaccines are safe, and side effects are usually mild and last only a few days. Common side effects include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, headache, fever, muscle aches, joint pain or feeling tired. Side effects in children include irritability, drowsiness, or loss of appetite.

In rare cases, serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) can occur. Seek medical attention if you have trouble breathing, rash or swelling of the face and throat. Allergic reactions can be treated and are usually temporary. The risk of Oculo-Respiratory Syndrome is very low. The risk of Guillain-Barré Syndrome after flu vaccination is also very low, at about one case in a million flu vaccines given. The risk of Guillain-Barre Syndrome is higher following an influenza infection.

Talk to Your Health Care Provider

Always tell your health care provider if you have allergies or if you have had side effects from a vaccine in the past. This vaccine is not for people who have had any allergic reaction to flu vaccine (anaphylaxis) in the past or people who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (nerve damage causing muscle weakness or paralysis) within six weeks after flu vaccination. People with a history of Oculo-Respiratory Syndrome (presence of at least one of the following symptoms: red eyes, cough, wheeze, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, sore throat, or facial swelling) can get the vaccine but should speak with a health care provider first.

Getting Your Influenza Vaccine at the Same Time as Other Vaccines

Children 6 months of age and older and adults can get the flu vaccine at the same time, before or after a COVID-19 vaccine. For people who are eligible and receive AREXVY, the recently approved vaccine for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a 14 day wait period is recommended before or after getting the flu vaccine.

Flu vaccine appointments are available at:

  • Participating pharmacies for people two years of age and older
  • Participating primary care providers for people six months of age and older

How to Get Your Flu Vaccine Safely

  • Contact your local pharmacist or health care provider to make an appointment for you and your family members
  • Self-screen for symptoms of illness before going to your appointment
  • Stay home if you feel sick, even if your symptoms are mild
  • Wear a well-fitted mask

For more information