Did You Know?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses (influenza A or B virus) that infect the nose, throat, and the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to complications or death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
- We recommend that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated for the flu.
- Anyone can get the flu, and it can be serious.
- The groups of people more at risk are:
- Elders (75 years and up)
- People who are immunocompromised (their medicine weakens their immune system)
- People with chronic conditions (such as diabetes, heart conditions, kidney disease, hypertension, cancer or asthma)
- Children under 6 months old because they cannot be vaccinated themselves, instead, family members should be vaccinated to protect them
- Pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimester (and pregnant women who have a chronic disease are at higher risk as of their 1st trimester)
- Vaccination is strongly recommended to close contacts of the at risk groups of people mentioned above (health care workers and people living with people who are at higher-risk)
- The only people that should not get the vaccine are anyone who had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a flu vaccine (or to another product with a similar component) in the past.
- Anaphylaxis to eggs are no longer a contraindication.
Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some, or all, of these symptoms:
- fever or feeling feverish/chills
- sore throat
- muscle or body aches
- general fatigue (tiredness)
- some people may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, though this is more common in children than adults.
- Most people will recover from a flu within a few days to a few weeks.
- Some people might develop complications from the virus. This can include:
- pneumonia (lung infection)
- dehydration due to sweating caused by fever
- ear infections
- sinus infections
- worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
- In Canada, about 3,500 people die from influenza every year, and over 12,000 people are hospitalized for it.
Yes. Someone infected by the flu can spread it to someone else before showing symptoms.
- Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 7 days after becoming sick, and sometimes even a little longer.
- Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for a longer time.
- Vaccines help the body’s immune system learn a specific virus so that it can build its defenses by creating antibodies.
- Antibodies act as a protection in case you are exposed to the virus. It creates an “immunity memory” so the body understands and remembers how to protect itself against the virus.
- Antibodies are ready to fight the flu in about 2 weeks after vaccination.
- This means the vaccinated person will be less sick, or not even sick at all, if they are exposed to the virus.
- However, studies have shown that the number of antibodies may decrease in the year after vaccination. This decrease particularly affects older adults and people with a weakened immune system.
- The viruses that cause flu change each year. The flu vaccines are modified each year so that they protect against the virus strains that are going around during that specific flu season.
The flu shot is your best protection against flu and its complications.
- There are many different viruses that cause the flu.
- The flu shot is made to protect against the viruses that will be most common in a season.
- When the influenza vaccine is well matched with the viruses going around, it prevents influenza in about 60% to 80% of adults and children who get the shot.
- It takes about 2 weeks for the shot to give you the best protection.
- The protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, and depends on things like age and the health of the person getting the shot.
Yes, the flu vaccine is safe.
- It is not possible to get the flu or other illnesses from the flu shot.
- These are many programs in Canada that ensure the quality of vaccines offered.
Yes. The injectable flu vaccine is considered safe at any stage of pregnancy.
It is a good idea for pregnant women to be vaccinated because:
- Women in the second half (over 20 weeks) of pregnancy are at higher risk of influenza-related complications and at higher risk of hospitalization from these complications.
- As well, women at any stage of pregnancy who have chronic medical conditions are also at higher risk of serious influenza complications and should be immunized.
The flu shot cannot give you the flu. However, some common side effects may occur. These side effects are mild and do not last long.
The most common side effects for the injectable vaccine are:
- pain and swelling at the injection site
- muscle soreness, joint pain, headache, fatigue
- loss of appetite, drowsiness, irritability
You may apply a cold, damp compress at the injection site. And use a medication for fever and discomfort if needed (per example Advil or Tylenol).
The most common side effects for the intranasal vaccine are:
- Nasal discharge (runny nose) or nasal congestion
- Headache, fatigue or discomfort
Use a medication for fever or discomfort if needed (per example Advil or Tylenol). Do not give medication containing aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) to people under age 18 for 4 weeks following their vaccination.
Even though getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself against the flu, it is still possible to get the flu. This is because:
- You may be exposed to a flu virus shortly before getting vaccinated or during the period that it takes the body to gain protection after being vaccinated (about 2 weeks).
- You may be exposed to a flu virus that is not included in the seasonal flu vaccine. There are many different flu viruses that circulate, but flu shots only contain the main types that researchers believe will be most common that season.
- When the influenza vaccine is well matched with the circulating viruses, it prevents influenza in about 60% to 80% of adults and children receiving the vaccine.
If you are vaccinated and get the flu, it will be less severe than if you were not vaccinated:
- It is less effective in elderly adults, but Studies have shown that the influenza vaccine decreases the incidence of pneumonia, hospital admissions, and death, even in the elderly population.
Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.
- Flu shots will be available at your local CMC starting in November.
- Vaccines will be available through the winter.
- For vaccination schedules, visit: https://www.creehealth.org/flu-vaccination
- If you already have an appointment at the clinic, make sure to ask your healthcare provider if you can receive the vaccine then.
- The CMC staff will respect all COVID-19 measures to safely give the flu shot.
- Make sure you feel physically well - do not go to the vaccination clinic if you are sick with any possible COVID-19 or flu symptoms or are isolating.
- When you come, wear a short sleeve shirt so it is easy to give the vaccine in your arm.
- Wear a mask or face covering when you come.
- Bring your health card (even if expired).
- If your clinic is doing vaccination by appointment, make sure to schedule the appointment and respect the time you are given.
- Remind your friends and family members of the importance of getting their flu shot to protect themselves and protect the community
For more tips: Flu tips | Cree Health
FLU & COVID-19
No, the flu shot does not protect you from COVID-19. The flu shot only protects you from the flu (influenza virus).
- COVID-19 and the flu are different illnesses, and need different vaccines.
- The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19, is to be vaccinated with the recommended number of doses.
- To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination, visit: COVID-19 Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions | Cree Health
No, COVID-19 vaccination only protects you from COVID-19 and its variants.
- The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from complications from flu.
- COVID-19 and the flu are different illnesses, and need different vaccines.
Yes, you can get the flu vaccine (flu shot) and a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day.
- When possible, it is best to wait 14 days before and after a COVID-19 vaccine before getting another vaccine.
- However, the Quebec Immunization Protocol allows to omit this delay between the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine to avoid missed opportunities for vaccination.
- Both influenza and COVID-19 can cause complications leading to hospitalization.
- Preventing the flu gives more time to the health care system to take care of COVID-19 patients.
- It is possible to have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, but we do not know how severe it can be, or how it would affect your health.
The flu (influenza) and COVID-19 are both contagious lung infections and lead to similar symptoms, but are caused by different viruses.
- Flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses that change each year and cause a seasonal influenza epidemic.
- COVID-19 is caused by infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.
Both COVID-19 and flu can spread from person-to-person through droplets made when people with the illness cough, sneeze, or talk.
- Usually, virus spreads between people who are in close contact, within 2 meters or 6 feet, of one another.
- Limiting your physical contacts with other people, washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of both COVID-19 and flu viruses.
The best way to know if you have the flu, a cold, or COVID-19 is to be tested.
- Some of the symptoms of flu, common colds and COVID-19 overlap with each other, so you cannot tell the difference between them based on only symptoms.
- Call your CMC or Infoline 1-866-855-2811 if you are having symptoms of any respiratory illness.
- If you are sick, stay home!
Learn more about testing: COVID-19 - Prevention | Cree Health
Both diseases are dangerous.
- The flu is less dangerous than COVID-19 overall.
- But, we do not know how the flu can affect an individual person.
- The flu mutates each year, so it is difficult to know how many people will be affected, and how serious their illness may be.
- Both flu and COVID-19 can cause serious illness, including lung infections that require hospitalization, intensive care, and may even cause death.
- Both viruses are more likely to be severe in people who are older and have multiple chronic medical conditions.
- Both viruses can affect younger people in a severe way too.
- Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your community from the flu and COVID-19.
- There is a vaccine for the flu, and a separate vaccine for COVID-19.
Yes. It is possible have flu, or other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time.
- It is also possible to have one right after the other.
- We do not know at this time how severe it is for someone if they have both illnesses.
To prevent the spread of the flu, COVID-19 and other viruses, be sure to follow good hygiene measures, like:
- Always keep your hands clean – wash with warm water and soap many times per day, especially after touching any shared objects, when you are in public spaces, and before you eat. Use hand sanitizer when you cannot wash with soap.
- Wear a mask or face covering when you are in indoor public spaces or need to be closer than 2m with someone you do not live with. Be careful when readjusting your mask - only touch it by the ear loops, not the fabric.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick as they may be contagious. Do not get close to them and do not touch objects they have used, like their phone. Ask them to avoid visiting you until they are better.
- Cough or sneeze in your elbow or in a tissue. See Coughing and sneezing without contaminating.
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth with unwashed hands. This is often how viruses like flu, colds and COVID-19 get inside your body.
- Cleaning is very effective in killing viruses. Clean frequently touched areas of your home and work often. For example, clean your counters, doorknobs, light switches and other surfaces that you touch often with your hands. Don’t forget your cellphone!
- You can use soap and water or prepare a disinfectant solution of 1 part household bleach (5%) to 9 parts water (1 cup bleach + 9 cups water). Make the mix fresh every day so it will remain effective.
This year in 2021, more than ever, getting your flu shot is important to prevent more illness and stress on the healthcare system during the continued COVID-19 pandemic