Seasonal Influenza

What is Influenza (the flu)? 

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.

Is it a cold or Influenza (flu) - know the differences

What are the symptoms of the flu? 

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by many viruses. It affects the nose, throat and lungs.

 

Symptoms include:

  • High fever;

  • Chills;

  • Headache;

  • Aches and pains;

  • Extreme fatigue and weakness;

  • Runny or stuffy nose;

  • Sneezing;

  • Coughing and chest discomfort; or,

  • Sore throat.

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 long does it take to recover from the flu? 

Most people recover from the flu in 5 to 7 days. If you have the flu, please stay home. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of clear liquids.

 

You can speak to your health care provider or call 811 to get advice on what you can do to manage your symptoms or whether you need to seek additional medical care.

 

For some people, the flu can be serious. If you’re in one of the high-risk groups, please monitor your symptoms.  

If your symptoms get worse or your symptoms last a long time, please speak to your health care provider.

 

Possible complications of the flu include pneumonia, worsening of chronic conditions, or death.

How can I prevent influenza? 

To avoid getting and spreading the flu:

  • Get the flu shot;

  • Wash your hands frequently;

  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow;

  • Stay home if you are sick;

  • Limit contact with other people while you are sick;

  • Limit contact with others who are sick;

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth;

  • Don’t share utensils, bottles, cosmetics; and,

  • Disinfect surfaces regularly like taps, doorknobs and counter tops

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 and Contain poster 

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 get a flu shot? 

Everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador 6 months old and above should get a flu shot.

 

Public Health is recommending everyone get the flu shot, especially those people at high-risk of flu-related complications, including:

  • Adults 65 years old and above;

  • Anyone with a chronic medical condition;

  • Residents in nursing homes, long-term care homes, and personal care homes;

  • Health care workers;

  • Care providers for children under the age of 5;

  • Workers providing care in closed facilities such as correctional facilities; and,

  • Pregnant women.

Who should not get the flu shot? 

  • Those who 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 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.

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.

 

Immunization protects people and communities by preventing the spread of disease.

 

As more people are immunized, the disease risk for everyone is reduced. This is particularly important during a pandemic.

 

Vaccines are safe and effective. Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and others. The flu shot is free for everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador 6 months old and above.

 

It’s time. We all have to do our part. Book an appointment today or talk to your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or local public health office about getting the flu shot.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Related links: 

Immunize Canada