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.
Everyone 6 months and older should be vaccinated.
Anyone can get the flu. The groups of people more at risk are Elders (75 years and up), people who are immunocompromised (taking medication diminishing their immune system), people with chronic conditions (such as diabetes, heart conditions, kidney disease, hypertension, cancer or asthma), children under 6 months old (they cannot receive the vaccine, family members should be vaccinated), pregnant women in their 2nd and 3rd trimester.
*The only people that should not get the vaccine are if you had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a flu vaccine in the past.
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)
- runny or stuffy nose
- some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, 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), ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
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 to 7 days after becoming sick.
- People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
- 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 to develop antibodies to fight the flu in about 2 weeks after vaccination. These antibodies act as a protection in case you are exposed to the virus. It creates an “immunity memory”, the body understand and remembers how to protect itself against the virus, making the vaccinated person less sick or even not sick at all.
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. In addition, viruses that cause flu change each year. The composition of flu vaccines are reviewed annually in order to include the virus strains most likely to be in circulation during the flu season.
Yes, the flu vaccine is safe. It cannot transmit flu or other illnesses. In fact, the viruses that it contains are killed or too weak to reproduce and cause the flu.
In Canada and at the World Health Organization (WHO), there are several vaccination surveillance programs. These programs ensure, among other things, the quality of vaccines offered.
Yes. The inactivated influenza vaccine (injectable flu vaccine) is considered safe at any stage of pregnancy. 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.
No, The flu vaccine will not make you sick. However common side effects may occur.
You can find the details here.
Injectable flu vaccine:
Intranasal flu vaccine:
Yes. Even though the vaccine is the best way to protect against influenza, it is possible to get sick even if you have been vaccinated. This is possible for the following reasons:
- 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. (Antibodies develop in the body about 2 weeks after vaccination.)
- 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; every year the vaccines are made from 3 or 4 types of flu viruses that research suggests will be most common. 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.
- Unfortunately, some people can catch the flu despite getting vaccinated. The protection provided by flu vaccination can vary widely, based in part on health and age factors of the person getting 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 in the elderly population.
Flu vaccination is not a perfect tool, but it is the best way to protect against flu infection.
Starting November 2nd, for all of winter, your local CMC will be able to provide you with the vaccine. The schedules can be find here: 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 have taken measures to provide the vaccine safely while respecting the distancing measures in place.
Make sure you feel physically well - do not go to the vaccination clinic if you are sick with any possible COVID symptoms or are under isolation request from the Public Health or Public Safety.
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
FLU AND COVID-19
Both influenza and COVID-19 can cause complications leading to hospitalization. We do know that a double infection is possible, however, we do not know how severe it can be or how it would affect your health. Preventing the flu would also give more time to the health care system to take care of COVID-19 patients by diminishing flu complications and hospitalizations.
Flu (influenza) and COVID-19 are both contagious lung infections 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 a new coronavirus called 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 and flu viruses
Because some of the symptoms of flu, common colds and COVID-19 overlap with each other, you cannot tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. The best way to tell is to be tested to confirm a diagnosis. Call your CMC or Infoline 1-866-855-2811 for further guidance if you are having symptoms of any respiratory illness.
Both diseases are dangerous.
While we can say that overall for the population, influenza is generally less dangerous than COVID-19, we cannot say for any one person which will be more dangerous to them personally if they become infected. Because the flu mutates each year, how many people it affects and how seriously can change a lot from one year to the next. Both flu and COVID-19 can cause serious illness, including lung infections that require hospitalization, intensive care, and even cause death.
In Canada, an estimated average of about 3500 people die from influenza every year, and over 12,000 people are hospitalized for flu. So far (as of October), just under 10,000 people in Canada have died of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. Both viruses are more likely to be severe in people who are older and have multiple chronic medical conditions, but both also sometimes affect younger people in a severe way too.
There is still much to learn about COVID-19, but at this time, it seems as if COVID-19 is more deadly than typical seasonal influenza. This may change as we learn more about COVID-19. Unlike for COVID-19, there is an available vaccine for flu to help protect you from getting infected.
No, it will not. The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, only against the influenza virus. There is no currently available vaccine to protect against COVID-19, although there is a lot of very robust research going on to find a vaccine and confirm that it is safe and effective. When a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 is eventually approved and available in Quebec, the CBHSSJB and your CMC will plan a vaccine campaign to ensure it is given to everyone that should have it.
Yes. It is possible have flu, or other respiratory illnesses, and COVID-19 at the same time, or one right after the other. We do not know at this time how severe that could become for any one individual.
To prevent the spread of Flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses, you can follow recognized hygiene measures.
- Always keep your hands clean – wash with 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 to only touch by the ear loops, not over the fabric itself.
- 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 utensils for instance. Ask them to avoid visiting you until they have gotten 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.
- Clean the frequently touched areas of house and work site regularly. For example, clean your counters, doorknobs, light switches and other surfaces that you touch often with your hands. Don’t forget to clean the surface of your cellphone too. Cleaning is very effective in killing viruses, which can survive on hard surfaces. You can use soap and water or prepare a disinfectant solution of 1 part household bleach (5%) to 9 parts water (e.g. 1 cup bleach and 9 cups water). Make the mix fresh every day so it will remain effective.