Families and the public

  • This page is designed to give families and the public up-to-date information on seasonal influenza. Please check back often for updated information.

Frequently Asked Questions... 

What is 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.

Is it a cold or influenza?

What should I do if I get sick?

If you have mild influenza-like symptoms, but are otherwise healthy, stay home to avoid infecting others and treat the symptoms. You can return to normal activities when you have no more symptoms. If you are pregnant, have underlying health problems or your symptoms get worse, contact your healthcare provider for advice or call Newfoundland and Labrador Health Line - 811 or TTY - 1-888-709-3555 or visit the 811 Healthline website

How can I prevent influenza?

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.
  • 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.

Encourage others to follow these simple steps. If you have children, be a good role model. Teach them to count to 20 while washing their hands and show them how to cover up when they cough or sneeze.

Clean, Cover & Contain

Am I eligible for the 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 risk. People at risk of serious illness from influenza

Who should not get the influenza vaccine?  

  • Those you have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to the influenza vaccine in the past.
  • People with egg allergies can be safely immunized with influenza vaccine in any setting. This includes those who have experienced anaphylaxis following eating eggs.

What kind of influenza vaccines are available this year?

Inactivated influenza vaccine: These vaccines are made of killed influenza viruses. It is approved for those 6 months of age and older. This vaccine is given by injection.  For more information, consult your public health nurse or health care provider.

Live attenuated vaccine (Flumist): Flumist is made from weakened influenza viruses.  It is given as an intranasal spay into both nostrils.  It is approved for those individuals 2 to 59 years of age. For more information, consult your local public health nurse or healthcare provider.   

Is the seasonal influenza vaccine safe?

Yes.  You cannot get influenza from the vaccine.  In Canada, vaccines undergo rigorous testing and licensing procedures with the Federal government. 

What are the possible side effects of the seasonal influenza vaccine?

Reactions that do occur are usually mild and may last a day or two.  You may experience:

  • Mild pain and/or swelling at the place where you got the needle
  • Mild fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and pains
  • A feeling of being tired

How do I get the seasonal influenza vaccine?

Contact the public health office in your area or discuss with your healthcare provider.

If I got the seasonal influenza vaccine last year do I need to get it again this year?

Yes.  Each year there is a new vaccine to protect against the influenza virus strains that are expected in the coming influenza season. The seasonal influenza virus changes often, therefore it is necessary to get a seasonal influenza immunization every year.  This will provide protection against the new virus strains that may be circulating that year.

Vaccine Schedule:

  • Vaccine is usually available in late October or early November.  For best protection, you should get immunized as soon as possible. Please remember to bring your MCP card to influenza clinics as you will need to fill out a consent form.
  • Adults and children, who are 9 years of age and older, need only one dose of the seasonal influenza vaccine.
  • Children, six months to 8 years of age receiving the influenza vaccine for the first time should be given 2 doses, 4 weeks apart. 
  • For children 6 months to 8 years of age who have received an influenza vaccine in the past, only one dose is required.

Regional Immunization Schedule


Immunize Canada