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Seasonal flu cases result in approximately 12,200 hospitalizations and, on average, 3,500 deaths in Canada each year. The flu season typically runs from November to April.
Influenza (the flu) typically starts with a headache, chills and cough. Those are quickly followed by fever, loss of appetite, muscle aches and fatigue, running nose, sneezing, watery eyes and sore throat. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also occur, especially in children.
Most people will have uncomplicated influenza and recover from within a week or ten days, but some are at greater risk of developing more severe complications such as pneumonia.
Some people are more likely to get seriously ill if they catch the flu, including:
It's also important to remember that the flu vaccine protects against three or four flu strains (depending on the type of vaccine you receive), so even when there is a less than ideal match or lower effectiveness against one strain, the vaccine can provide protection against the remaining two or three strains.
The seasonal flu vaccine is safe and effective and remains the best protection against flu viruses. Everyone over the age of six months is encouraged to get the vaccine.
Receiving the flu vaccine is especially important for those who are more likely to get seriously ill or suffer complications if they catch the flu. Getting the flu shot every year is important because the vaccine is reformulated annually. Flu viruses are constantly changing and your immunity levels following vaccination decrease over time, which is why a flu vaccine is needed each year. Flu vaccine is made up of the flu strains that research suggests will cause the most illness in the upcoming flu season. The flu vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu.
It's also important to remember that the flu vaccine protects against three or four flu strains (depending on the type of vaccine you receive), so even when there is a less than ideal match or lower effectiveness against one strain, the vaccine Â can provide protection against the remaining two or three strains.
In addition to getting the flu shot, you can protect yourself and your family from infection during flu season by taking the following steps:
If you are elderly and at high-risk of complications or if you are severely ill with the flu, consult a health care professional regarding the potential use of antiviral drugs to help manage the flu. It is important that antiviral drugs be started as early as possible after you get sick.
The flu vaccine is also highly recommended for:
Canadians can keep track of their influenza immunizations with ImmunizeCA, an app that helps parents store and manage their families’ vaccination records, easily access their provincial or territorial vaccination schedule as well as find timely and accurate information on the benefits of vaccination.