Flu (influenza): Get your flu shot
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- Why get the flu shot
- Getting a COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot
- Groups who should especially get the vaccine
- You need a flu shot every year
Why get the flu shot
The flu shot is your best defence against the flu. The flu shot is recommended for almost everyone who is 6 months of age and older.
Children from 6 months to less than 9 years of age who have never had a flu shot before should receive 2 doses. It's recommended that the interval between doses be at least 4 weeks apart during the current flu season.
The flu shot helps to protect you if you later get exposed to the virus by helping to:
- prevent you from getting very sick from flu-related complications
- protect people close to you because, when vaccinated, you're less likely to spread the virus to others
- reduce the overall burden on the health care system during respiratory virus season
- reduce your chances of being infected with the flu and other respiratory viruses at the same time, including COVID-19, which could lead to serious complications
The flu shot won't protect you against COVID-19, so it's also very important to be up to date with:
- recommended COVID-19 vaccinations
- any other recommended vaccines
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine and the flu shot
People 6 months of age and older can get their COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as, or at any time before or after, other recommended vaccines. This includes the flu shot.
The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. This means that the flu vaccine won't protect you against COVID-19. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccinations is an important way to keep you protected through respiratory illness season. This includes COVID-19 vaccinations, annual flu shots and any other vaccines recommended for you.
If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, it’s recommended that you wait until you’re no longer infectious before getting your flu shot. This will reduce the risk of spreading viruses, such as flu and COVID-19, to health care providers and others during your vaccination appointment.
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Groups who should especially get the vaccine
The flu shot helps to reduce your risk of getting sick and developing serious illness and complications if you’re exposed to the flu virus. This reduces your chances of being infected with COVID-19, or another respiratory illness, and the flu at the same time. Having multiple infections could lead to more serious complications. You should especially receive the flu shot this season if you're:
- at high risk of severe disease from the flu or COVID-19
- at increased risk of spreading the flu or COVID-19 to those at high risk of severe illness or complications
The flu vaccine is especially important for the following groups:
People at high risk of complications, including hospitalization, from the flu
- Indigenous people
- People who are pregnant
- People 65 years and older
- Children 6 months to less than 5 years of age
- Adults and children with chronic health conditions, such as:
- kidney disease
- morbid obesity
- heart or lung disorders
- diabetes and other metabolic diseases
- anemia or other blood disorders and diseases
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- People of any age who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
- Children 6 months to 18 years of age who are undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid (ASA)
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People at increased risk of passing on the flu virus to those at high risk
- Household contacts of people at high risk of serious illness or complications
- Regular childcare providers to children less than 5 years of age
- Health care and other care providers working in facilities and community settings
- Those who provide services in closed or relatively closed settings to people at high risk, such as crews on a ship
- People who provide essential community services
- People who are in direct contact with poultry infected with avian flu
Talk to a health care provider to find out when it's best to get vaccinated against the flu.
You need a flu shot every year
Flu vaccines protect against different strains of influenza A and B each year. The World Health Organization makes yearly recommendations on what strains should be included based on worldwide trends of what strains are circulating and current evidence.
This is why a new flu vaccine is produced every year. It's important that you get a new flu shot every year because:
- flu viruses can change over time
- the effectiveness of the flu shot can decrease over time, so receiving a flu vaccine each year helps to keep you protected
Effectiveness of the flu shot
Getting your flu shot is the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and flu-related complications. If you get the flu, the flu shot may reduce the severity of the illness and the chances of developing flu-related complications.
The effectiveness of the vaccine can vary and may depend on:
- the health and age of the person getting the flu shot
- how well the vaccine matches with the circulating flu strains in that season
The strains circulating in the population can sometimes change during the time it takes to produce a vaccine. When this happens, the flu shot may not work as well as expected.
The flu shot protects against 3 or 4 different strains of the flu virus each season. The flu shot can still provide protection even when there's a less-than-ideal match between the vaccine and a circulating strain. This can result in lower effectiveness against one strain of the virus but will still provide some protection.
- You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.
- Side effects after a flu shot are generally mild and resolve on their own within a few days.
- Severe reactions are very rare.
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