This year, as we enter flu season and a second wave of COVID-19, getting the flu vaccine is more important than ever to protect you, your loved ones and the community from the transmission of the flu.
The flu is a serious viral infection and presents additional challenges during future waves of COVID-19. Together, let’s do our part to prevent the transmission of the flu by getting the annual flu vaccine – this is the best defence against the flu
How to reduce transmission of the flu and other infectious diseases
Along with getting the flu vaccine, you can help reduce the transmission of the flu and other infectious diseases by:
- Staying home when you're sick
- Washing your hands for 15-20 seconds with soap and water
- Practice physical distancing of 2 meters from others
- Wearing a mask
- Sneezing into a tissue or your sleeve
- Keeping commonly touched surfaces disinfected
- Informing your peers about the importance of receiving the annual flu vaccine
- Experts create a new vaccine each year based on the viruses’ strain which is why you must vaccinate every year
- It takes about two weeks for the flu vaccine to protect against infection, so get vaccinated as soon as you can and before flu season starts
- The flu typically takes 24 hours to show symptoms and 3-5 days after getting exposed; For COVID-19, it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear after exposure to the virus
- All viruses, including flu and COVID-19, spread more easily in group settings
- Flu symptoms include: fever, chills, cough, runny eyes, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, extreme weakness and tiredness and loss of appetite.
Some people may have diarrhea or vomiting, however this is more common in children.
Where can I get the flu vaccine?
Children between 6 months to 4 years old
Individuals between 5 – 64 years old
Individuals who are 65 years and older
- For the 2020/2021 season, if you're 65 and older, there are two different flu shots available – standard dose and high-dose.
- Both shots are effective – do not delay getting vaccinated. Your doctor or nurse practitioner can answer any questions you might have.
- To get the standard-dose vaccine, which protects against 4 strains of flu virus:
- To get the high-dose vaccine, (also called "Fluzone® HighDose"), which protects against 3 strains of flu virus, but in higher doses:
Do you think you have the flu?
- Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu, and it may be difficult to tell the difference. You may need a COVID-19 test to confirm the diagnosis.
- If you have any questions or concerns about the flu or COVID-19, you can call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or your local Public Health Unit
- Speak to your doctor, nurse practitioner or pharmacist about over-the-counter medications that can help you feel better (such as basic pain or fever relievers), but do not give acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin®) to anyone under 18 years old
- If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately or go to your nearest Emergency Department.
- At home care:
- Treat muscle pain using a hot water bottle or heating pad – apply heat for short periods of time, stay home and get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, avoid caffeine, take a warm bath, gargle with a glass of warm salt water or suck on hard candy or lozenges, use spray or saline drops for a stuffy nose and avoid alcohol and tobacco
Call your doctor or nurse practitioner if:
- You don't start to feel better after a few days
- Your symptoms get worse
- You are in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms
Is it COVID-19, the flu or a cold?
Who is most at risk of getting the flu?
Complications from the flu can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or heart attacks and, in some cases, death. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
Some people are more vulnerable to complications and hospitalization from the flu:
- Babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot, but they'll get some protection if their parent got the flu shot while they were pregnant
- Children under 5 years of age because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
- People 65 years old and older, because their immune systems are weaker and they are more likely to have an underlying condition that increases their risk
- Pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change – especially later in pregnancy – making them more likely to get seriously ill from the flu
- People with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes
Are You An Oncology Patient?
If you currently have cancer and have questions about whether or not you should receive this year’s flu vaccine, see Frequently Asked Questions oncology patients might have about flu vaccine.
For Jude for Everyone
More Information and Additional Resources from Public Health Ontario