Updated September 2017

Vaccine Brands

Fluviral®, Influvac® Trivalent

Vaccine Benefits

  • Influenza vaccines are free for children and adults in Ontario.
  • They are safe.
  • For adults the vaccines protect against three strains of the flu virus.
  • The vaccines are made from deactivated flu particles, to help your immune system prevent flu but cannot give you the flu.
  • The flu virus is always changing so a new flu vaccine is needed each year.
  • The vaccines are about 50% effective in healthy adults to protect from a flu illness.

Individuals who should get the vaccine

  • Anyone who is six months of age and older is recommended to get the flu vaccine.
  • Pregnant women to protect themselves and their baby.
  • The elderly, those with a medical condition or weak immune system
  • Those who look after sick people or people with weak immune systems should also get the vaccine.

People who should not get the vaccine

  • Previous severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a flu vaccine
  • Allergy to a vaccine component such as gentamycin or thimerosal
  • Previous Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks of a flu vaccination
  • Persons with a history of Oculorespiratory syndrome can get the vaccine but should speak with their doctor first
  • If you have a serious acute illness you should wait until you are feeling better

Vaccine Side Effects and Risks

  • Flu vaccines are safe and well-tolerated.
  • Common side effects are pain, redness and swelling at the injection site.
  • Some people may experience headache, fever, muscle aches and tiredness.
  • Symptoms are usually mild and last only a few days.
  • Severe side effects are very rare. They may include:
    • Allergic reactions such as rash, trouble breathing, swelling of the face and throat.
    • Oculorespiratory syndrome may occur, causing red eyes, swelling of the face, coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
    • The risk of getting Guillain-Barré syndrome following flu vaccination is very low about one in a million flu shots.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a concerning reaction to the flu vaccine.

Influenza Illness

  • Influenza is a virus.
  • The infection spreads by droplets when talking, sneezing or coughing.
  • Kids and adults can spread the infection before they have any symptoms.
  • Young children, seniors and those with a weak immune system have higher chances of getting very sick.
  • Influenza can worsen medical conditions such as heart disease or lung disease.
  • It can cause pneumonia and blood infections.
  • The risk of getting Guillain-Barré syndrome following flu infection is much higher than following vaccination.
  • Getting the flu vaccine is the best way to prevent influenza infection. It takes two weeks for protection to develop.
  • Flu viruses can live on surfaces for hours.
    • Clean your hands a lot with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs
    • Avoid touching your face.

More information