What is Influenza?
Influenza, often called the 'flu', is an infection of the upper airway (e.g. nose and throat) caused by an influenza virus.
A person with influenza is also at risk of other infections. These include viral or bacterial pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. The risk of complications is greater for seniors 65 years and older, very young children, and people who have lung or heart diseases, certain chronic health problems, or weakened immune systems.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
Influenza symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Although colds and other viruses may cause similar symptoms, those due to the influenza virus tend to be worse.
Symptoms can begin about one to four days (on average two days) after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms can usually last 7 to 10 days, with cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.
In children, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may accompany the respiratory phase
What should I do if I get sick?
If you have mild influenza-like symptoms, but are otherwise healthy, stay home to treat your symptoms and avoid infecting others. 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 HealthLine - 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 removed 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 (flu shot).
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.
Am I eligible for the flu shot?
Flu shots are available to all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador aged 6 months 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 members of the public who are at high risk. People who are at risk of serious illness from influenza.
Who should not get the flu shot?
Those who have had a severe allergic reaction (anaphlylaxis) 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 is available this year. These vaccines are made of killed influenza viruses. It is approved for those 6 months of age or older. This vaccine is given by injection.
For more information, consult your public health nurse or health care provider.
Is the seasonal flu shot safe?
Yes it is safe. 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 flu shot?
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 your needle.
Mild fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and pains.
A feeling of being tired.
How do I get a flu shot?
Contact the public health office in your area or discuss this with your healthcare provider. Flu clinics will be listed on this website and updates will be available on Twitter.
If I had a flu shot last year, will I need to get it again this year?
Yes. Flu virus strains change from year to year and each year a new vaccine is developed to protect against the flu. It is important to get a flu shot every year. This will protect you again the new strains that may be circulating.
About the vaccine schedule:
Flu vaccines are 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.
Children six months to less than 9 years of age, who are receiving the flu shot for the first time, should be given two doses, four weeks apart.
Children six months to less than 9 years of age, who have received a flu shot in the past, only need one dose.
Adults and children who are 9 years of age or older only need one dose of the seasonal influenza vaccine.