Flu (influenza): Get your flu shot

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Everyone 6 months and older should get the flu shot

The flu shot is your best defence against the flu. It can save lives by:

  • protecting you, if you are exposed to the virus
  • preventing you from getting very sick
  • protecting people close to you:
    • because you are less likely to spread the virus
    • who are at higher risk of serious flu complications if they get the flu
  • reducing additional burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic

Where to get your flu shot

The flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups.

People at high risk of complications from the flu

  • people with health conditions, such as:
    • cancer and other immune compromising conditions
    • diabetes
    • heart disease
    • lung disease
    • anemia
    • obesity
    • kidney disease
    • neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
    • children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
  • people 65 years and older
  • people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • children under 5 years of age
  • pregnant people or those planning to get pregnant
  • people who experience barriers in accessing health care
  • people who are at an increased risk of disease because of living conditions, such as overcrowding

People who can pass on the flu virus to those at high risk

  • caregivers
  • child care providers
  • health care providers
  • family and other household members
  • those who provide services in closed or relatively closed settings to people at high risk, such as workers in long-term care facilities or crew on a ship

You need a flu shot every year

A new flu vaccine is created every year to protect you during flu season. It is important that you get a new flu shot every year because:

  • the type of flu virus usually changes from year to year
  • effectiveness of the flu shot can wear off, so you need a new one every year to stay protected

The flu shot is effective

The effectiveness of the vaccine varies from season to season. It depends on how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu viruses, as well as the health and age of the person getting the flu shot.

The viruses circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens during the flu season, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.

It is also important to remember that the flu shot protects against several different flu viruses each season. Even when there is a less-than-ideal match or lower effectiveness against one virus, the seasonal flu shot can still provide protection against the remaining two or three viruses. If you do get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of flu-related complications.

Getting your flu shot is still the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications.

The flu shot is safe

  • you cannot get the flu from the flu shot
  • most people have no side effects from the flu shot
  • severe reactions are very rare

To learn more about the safety of vaccines, refer to our:

2020-2021 flu vaccine

This season's flu shot will protect you against:

  • Influenza A(H1N1)
  • Influenza A(H3N2)
  • Influenza B

The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. This means that the flu shot will not protect you against COVID-19.

Track your vaccinations

Download the free CANImmunize app to keep track of your vaccinations.

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