About Seasonal Influenza




Seasonal influenza, or "the flu," is a serious respiratory infection of the airways and lungs that can spread easily from person to person. There are two types of influenza viruses that cause outbreaks each year: Influenza A and B. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.  In Canada, thousands of people are hospitalized and die from influenza and its complications each year.

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms with the flu being more severe.

Flu symptoms may include:

  • A fever or feeling feverish (although not always the case)
  • A cough and/or sore throat
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (mostly in children)

You can play a role in staying healthy and preventing the spread of influenza. To protect yourself and others from influenza, remember to Clean, Cover, and Contain and follow these simple steps:

  • Clean your hands frequently and keep surfaces clean - Twenty seconds of handwashing with warm water and soap helps remove bacteria and viruses.  Remember to wash your hands before and after eating, after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after touching surfaces that may have been contaminated by other people.  Doorknobs, light switches, telephones, keyboards and other surfaces can become contaminated with all kinds of bacteria and viruses. Regular cleaning and disinfecting of these surfaces can help. Proper Handwashing Demonstration
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes - Use a tissue or raise your arm to your face and cough or sneeze into your arm.  If you use a tissue, dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands immediately. 
  • Contain your illness by staying home and resting - If you go out you may spread your illness to other people.  It may take you longer to get better if you are not well rested. 
  • Choose to be vaccinated. Get the annual influenza vaccine.Influenza vaccine is provided for all members of the public aged 6 months of age and older free of charge. However, it is especially important that some people get vaccinated, including those who are at high risk of serious illness from the flu and those able to transmit or spread influenza to those at high riskPeople at risk of serious illness from influenza.

Regional Influenza Immunization Schedule  

How influenza spreads

Protecting yourself and others

When to seek medical attention

Seasonal influenza is a serious respiratory infection of the airways and lungs, caused by the influenza virus and can be spread easily from person to person. 


Seasonal Influenza (The Flu)


Occurs every year during the winter months

Infection Rate

Affects 10 to 20 per cent of Canadians each year

Fatality Rate

Flu results in an average of 20,000 hospitalizations and 2,000 to 8,000 deaths in Canada each year.


Most people recover within a week or two.

Groups at Risk

Influenza vaccine is provided for all members of the public aged 6 months of age and older, with particular focus on people at high risk of influenza- related complications of hospitalization and people capable of spreading the flu to those at high risk. People at high risk of serious illness from influenza


The best protection against influenza is to get the flu shot every year and practice frequent hand washing or use hand sanitizer.


Anti-viral drugs are available for those most at risk of becoming seriously ill. Consult your healthcare provider to discuss these treatments.

How influenza is spread...

The influenza virus spreads through contact with droplets that have been coughed or sneezed by someone who has the flu. You can also get the flu by shaking hands with an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces, and then touching your own eyes, nose or mouth.

 Protecting yourself and others

The best way to prevent the flu is get the annual flu shot. In addition, protect yourself and others from influenza by practicing the three C's - Clean, Cover and Contain

  • Clean your hands regularly with soap and water  for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes with your arm or a tissue. If you use a tissue dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands.
  • Contain your illness by staying home and resting.

These principles will help keep you healthy and prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses to other people.

Other things you can do to prevent the spread of seasonal influenza are:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect household surfaces such as door knobs, light switches and countertops.
  • Eat healthy food and stay physically active to keep your immune system strong.
  • Encourage all members of your household, especially children, to follow these practices.

When to seek medical attention

If symptoms worsen or if there are other health concerns, contact your healthcare provider or call the...
Newfoundland and Labrador Health Line - 811 or TTY - 1-888-709-3555 or visit the 811 Healthline website

Some of the signs that can signal progression to more severe disease include:

  • Shortness of breath, either during physical activity or while resting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish or grey skin color
  • Bloody or colored sputum (saliva/spit)
  • Chest pain
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • High fever that persists beyond three days
  • Low blood pressure
  • Severe persistent vomiting

Additional symptoms to watch for in children include:

  • Not drinking enough fluids or eating
  • Not waking up or interacting
  • Irritability
  • Not wanting to play or be held

For more information visit: Immunize Canada