It's that time of year again!
While the decision is entirely up to you and your loved one, flu season upon us and so is deciding whether or not to get the always discussed flu shot.
As with any important decision, it's always suggested to ensure you have the right information to make a choice you're most comfortable with.
As outlined by the Province of Ontario:
This year’s flu season is taking place at the same time as COVID-19. Don’t take any unnecessary risks with your health. Get the flu shot and get it early.
The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months old and older. It is:
- safe (including for kids and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding)
- available from your doctor or nurse practitioner, and at participating pharmacies and local public health units across the province
- proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu
- different each year because the virus changes frequently – so you need to get it every fall
Flu season typically runs from late fall to early spring.
You should get a flu shot as soon as possible because it takes two weeks to take effect.
Where to get the flu vaccine
5-64 years old
- doctor or nurse practitioner
- some local public health units
- participating pharmacy
65 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.
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.
To get either the standard dose or the high dose:
- visit a doctor or nurse practitioner
- contact your local public health unit
- visit a participating pharmacy
Symptoms typically appear 1 to 4 days after you've been exposed to the virus, but you're still contagious even if you don't show symptoms yet.
Most people who get the flu will recover within 7 to 10 days.
You may have caught the flu if you have:
- runny eyes
- stuffy nose
- sore throat
- muscle aches
- extreme weakness and tiredness
- loss of appetite
Some people may have diarrhea or vomiting, though this is more common in children than adults.
Who is most at risk
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
Have you gotten your flu shot yet? When do you usually plan to vaccinate against the flu?